DAYTON, Ohio – Indiana learned plenty from last year's run to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.
And this year, the No. 1 seed Hoosiers (27-6) want to use that experience to go even further. They begin their mission Friday against No. 16 seed James Madison (20-14) at the University of Dayton Arena in a second-round game in the East region.
"Last year was the first time, obviously, for all of us, and it was a very fun experience," guard Jordan Hulls said. "Now that we kind of know what to expect, this year is just as exciting, but being here last year definitely helps."
James Madison ended a 19-year NCAA tournament drought by making the field this season, and the Dukes believe playing in a First Four game Wednesday will help them today.
James Madison defeated LIU-Brooklyn 68-55 to advance to play Indiana.
"It was beneficial for our young guys, plus our older guys, I can't recall to me our older guys being on this stage," Dukes guard A.J. Davis said. "It was a good experience to get those first game jitters out."
Indiana could be at a disadvantage Friday as it only had Thursday to practice on Dayton's court, while James Madison has had two days of practice and a game on the court.
"Any time you get an extra game or extra practice or whatever, it probably helps," IU guard Will Sheehey said.
Even though a 16 seed has never defeated a No. 1, Indiana will not go into Friday's game overlooking James Madison.
"When you're looking at James Madison, you're looking at a battle‑tested team," IU coach Tom Crean said. "You're looking at a team that can score inside and outside, certainly a great experience, and freshmen that are getting better inside of their group. They know how they want to play. They know how to win.
"So you're focusing on the team and focusing on their strengths, and you're trying to find some things that you can get after more than you're focusing on the fact that they're a 16 seed and you're a 1 seed. That's not really anything we spend any time talking about."
Finding his mark
Hulls didn't have his best shooting performance in the Big Ten tournament.
In the Hoosiers' victory over Illinois, he went 0 for 5 from the floor. In the loss to Wisconsin, he went 2 for 9.
But Hulls, who averages 10.1 points on 45.5 percent shooting, isn't too worried about finding his shot in the NCAA tournament.
"I try not to think about it too much," Hulls said. "I have been shooting, maybe a little bit more. I try not to think about it. I just go out there and have fun and shoot the ball like I know I can."
Hulls said he didn't have a set number of shots he wanted to take in the last week to get back into a good rhythm, saying he took as many as he needed to feel good. And he isn't worried about not getting chances to shoot in the NCAA tournament.
"My teammates have a lot of confidence in me," Hulls said. "They are going to find me whenever I'm open. I'm just going to go out there have fun and play."
Oladipo on the mic
Indiana guard Victor Oladipo isn't just a good basketball player, he is also a pretty good singer.
And when his teammates were asked for their best Oladipo stories Thursday, his singing ability was No. 1 on their list.
"He's always singing, no matter where we're at," Hulls said. "Good thing I went first. Always singing. At our Hoosier Hysteria, he performed a little Usher for everybody at the arena. That was pretty cool. A little different, but that was a lot of fun. "
Christian Watford: "Jordan stole mine."
Cody Zeller: "I was going to say the same thing, Christian and I both said. He's always singing nonstop. I appreciate he gets a little country in there, so he always mixes it up."
Ready to go
James Madison coach Matt Brady and his team know a No. 16 team has never won in the NCAA tournament outside of a First Four game, but the Dukes will come in with confidence against the Hoosiers.
"Strangely, it's probably pretty high," Brady said of his team's confidence level. "I think it's not unrealistic. The kids recognize that we're playing a great basketball team. We met for a while this morning and showed them some tape, and I can tell you, with all honesty, it's the first time that every guy in the room was locked on the tape and not distracted for any length of time.
"So it's a focused team. It is a confident team. But as I've said to the team, we're going to have to play great, and we're going to have to hope that they don't play great. That's the nature of the game at this level when it's a 16 playing a 1. Indiana is a great basketball team. But our kids, as I think you just noticed, they're having fun, which is really what this is about, the kids having fun, and hopefully we'll play our best basketball."