Indiana Basketball: Hoosiers' Easiest Road to Winning 2013 NCAA Title

Kyle GrandFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2013

Indiana Basketball: Hoosiers' Easiest Road to Winning 2013 NCAA Title

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    The Indiana Hoosiers are in the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row. This year, they are a No. 1 seed and are more than capable of winning a sixth championship.

    There are a number of quality teams left in the tournament that the Hoosiers could face. Kansas, Duke and Louisville are just a few that pose a threat to Indiana. Out of all of the remaining squads, there are some that IU would have an easier time with.

    This slideshow will present the best possible matchups for the Hoosiers in the Elite 8, Final Four and championship game, assuming they defeat Syracuse in the Sweet 16.

Elite 8: Marquette

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    In the Sweet 16 battle between the Miami Hurricanes and Marquette Golden Eagles, the Hoosiers should hope that Marquette wins. 

    First, they are much smaller than Miami. This would bode very well for Indiana's Cody Zeller. Marquette would assign 6' 11" Chris Otule to Zeller. After him, the Golden Eagles don't have anyone on the roster taller than 6' 8". 

    Zeller is excellent at drawing fouls. If he could get Otule in foul trouble, Marquette would have a hard time finding someone else to guard him. 

    Marquette has not shot the ball particularly well in the tournament. In their second round game against Davidson, the Golden Eagles shot a measly 34.5 percent. The next game they faced Butler and once again struggled with a 42.6 shooting percentage. The Hoosiers would enjoy going up against a team that has suddenly lost its shooting touch.

    Outside of star guard Vander Blue, Marquette has struggled to score points. Indiana would have a much easier time focusing on shutting down one player instead of the arsenal of stars that are on the Hurricanes.

Final Four: Michigan

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    The reason Michigan would be a great matchup for IU is familiarity. These teams have already met twice, with Indiana winning both contests (81-73 at Indiana; 72-71 at Michigan).

    Mentally, the Hoosiers know they can take down the Wolverines. They would be extremely prepared for a third game. They know how to contain Trey Burke, and Cody Zeller dominated Michigan in both games (19 PTS, 10 REB in first game; 25 PTS 10 REB in second).

    There is something to be said about knowing everything about your opponent before playing in a Final Four game. Yes, the Wolverines would also be well-prepared, but they haven't beaten Indiana this year. They wouldn't be near as confident as the Hoosiers would be.  

Championship Game: Ohio State

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    When looking across the bracket, teams such as Louisville, Michigan State, Duke and Ohio State are still around. Most likely, the team IU would have to face in the championship would come from this bunch.

    Louisville has the size, speed and defensive pressure to cause major issues for Indiana. Duke is a carbon copy of the Hoosiers with its combination of Mason Plumlee and three-point shooting. Michigan State is coached by one of the best tournament minds in the country, so IU would want to avoid having to deal with Tom Izzo.

    I'm picking Ohio State because Indiana is familiar with the Buckeyes and they present a favorable matchup.

    Unlike the other teams who spread out the scoring, Ohio State depends on Deshaun Thomas to carry the load. While he has been lethal this year, it takes more than one player to beat the Hoosiers.

    The Buckeyes are a great defensive team, but the combination of Victor Oladipo and Zeller has given them trouble before and would give them trouble again. Now that Will Sheehey is consistently contributing, the Hoosiers have too many weapons for the Buckeyes to handle.