Indiana would have loved to play in Indianapolis in front of a home crowd this week at Lucas Oil Stadium in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional. But Louisville earned the number one overall seed in the tourney and the right to come through Indy on the road to the Final Four.
The NCAA selection committee assigned the Hoosiers as the top seed in the East Regional. So this week, the Hoosiers head to the nation's capital. Indiana plays 4th seed Syracuse Thursday at about 9:45 p.m. at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. 3rd seed Marquette takes on 2nd seed Miami in the first game Thursday at 7:15 p.m.
While the Hoosiers are not playing close to home, Indiana junior Victor Oladipo is. Oladipo hails from nearby Upper Marlboro, Maryland. He played at the famed DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.
Oladipo says he played at Verizon Center in both his junior and senior years of high school, and won both times.
"I didn't play too hot," recalled Oladipo. "But we won. That's all that really mattered. It's a great experience. I can't wait to go home and play in front of my family and friends."
Indiana returns to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season. The Hoosiers lost to Kentucky in Atlanta last year. They want to go much further this year.
"It will drive us, no question," said Oladipo. "We know how this feels. We know how it feels to be in the Sweet 16. But we want way more than that."
"It's a great feeling," said Indiana senior guard Jordan Hulls when asked about going back to the Sweet 16. "We were able to do that last year as well. We've been there before. It's definitely an experience that you'll remember for the rest of your life. We definitely excited about it."
The Hoosiers will practice at Verizon Center Wednesday from 3:10 – 4:00 p.m. The Sweet 16 practice is open to fans and media.
"It's a great feeling," said Indiana freshman Jeremy Hollowell. "It's a dream come true to get there my first year here."
Syracuse defeated Montana and California to advance to the Sweet 16. Indiana beat James Madison and Temple.
"You're looking at a team that's not going to give up," said Indiana senior Derek Elston. "We're going to constantly fight as far as we get to go. I feel that's all anybody can ask."