3 Reasons Why Indiana Is A Legitimate Final Four Contender

The Indiana Hoosiers limped to a 20-14 record last season, but did manage to squeak into the NCAA Tournament before being bounced in the Round of 64. Head coach Tom Crean is feeling the pressure to get the Hoosiers back to the level they were at in 2012-13, where they were the No. 1 team in the country and went to back-to-back Sweet 16's. 

This team seems to be the team that can break through that threshold and make a deep run in March, perhaps all the way to the Final Four. Here are three reasons why:

3) They actually have a big man!

Indiana didn't play anyone that was over 6'7" or 6'8" last season, and they were often at a major disadvantage because of it. That won't be the case this year thanks to the arrival of heralded 6'10" freshman Thomas Bryant.

The 6'10", 220-pound Bryant will be relied on as Indiana's only true post presence on a team full of guards, and he appears ready to carry the load. He has excellent athleticism, a few reliable post moves, and plays above the rim, but he needs to get stronger (like most freshmen) and has to work on being more agressive. Still, Bryant has the potential and the opportunity to win Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

2) Explosive offense

Indiana's offense ranked 18th in the country in points per game last season (77.5) and shot 46.6 percent from the field as a team. Those numbers should increase in Crean's up-tempo system with an interior threat like Bryant who can run the floor effectively and four returning starters. That offense kept them in a lot of games they shouldn't have been in last year, and their "spurtability" (ability to go on big runs throughout the course of a game) will allow them to outscore a lot of teams and pull off some comebacks when they need to.

1) Talented backcourt

Senior Yogi Ferrell (16.3 ppg, 4.9 apg) and sophomore James Blackmon Jr. (15.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) are perhaps the most explosive and productive backcourt returning to college basketball this season. They each shot over 42 percent from the field last season, are excellent at attacking the basket, and are deadly three point shooters. 

While you can get by without it in the NBA, a team's success in college basketball is largely dictated by guard play, and Indiana has two of the most talented and experienced guards in the country.

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Related Topics: College Basketball, NCAA Basketball, Thomas Bryant, James Blackmon Jr., Yogi Ferrell, Big Ten Basketball, Indiana Hoosiers Basketball