A lot has been made on the quick improvement seen out of the Hoosiers in the last two seasons. They made it to the Sweet 16, losing to the National Champion Kentucky Wildcats, and finished the year 27-9 after going 12-20 the previous season.
Not only did they come full circle from a year ago, but they also beat the No.1, No. 2 and No. 5 ranked teams all in one season. Some say that no game was better than the shocker from Christian Watford as he knocked down a buzzer-beater three to upset Kentucky.
Now we know that Cody Zeller and Watford will be returning, which gives them their starting five back for the 2012-2013 season. Throw in the No. 5 ranked recruiting class according to Rivals.com and you have a very formidable force. Let's not forget that Maurice Creek will be returning, who missed all of last season.
On paper, it looks very promising with what is returning and what will be added to an already explosive offensive team.
What will head coach Tom Crean do with the starting lineup? That's one of the biggest questions he will face before the start of next season. Truthfully, the combinations are endless. This will be one of, if not the deepest team in the country.
Even though all of this is enticing—and very exciting from a fan standpoint—will this team compete not only for a Conference Championship but for a National Championship as well?
Some are saying yes, as most preseason polls have the Hoosiers ranked No. 1 in the land. It's difficult not to jump in excitement when you read that, but will this team live up to this hype the media has created?
A lot will be expected of this team. Instead of going into most games as an underdog and being the hunter, they will now become the hunted. It will be interesting to see how they handle that type of change.
Defensively they will need to improve as a unit—they struggled with size and athleticism on that end of the court. However, improvements should be seen with key additions from the incoming freshman class like Hanner Perea, Yogi Ferrell and lock-down defender Ron Patterson.
If they can correct their defense, which in my opinion was their biggest weakness besides rebounding, then this team will be a very dangerous one.
We must wait to see if this team can live up to the hype, but one can salivate in anticipation of what could be if this team is clicking on all cylinders.
Regardless, Hoosier Nation is BACK!!!!!!