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Andy Manis | AP
Indiana's Noah Vonleh, center, fouls Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky during the second half Tuesday in Madison, Wis.

IU: Another dreary step backward

I don't know if the NIT selectors judge these things the way NCAA selectors do. But last night certainly didn't win any hearts and minds if you're the Indiana Hoosiers.

It wasn't so much that No. 14 Wisconsin dropped them on their heads 69-58; Indiana hadn't won in Madison since people had actually heard of Tone Loc, and no one expected the Hoosiers to do it this time. No, it was the way happened that was especially soul-crushing if you live and die with IU hoops.

A 10-point Indiana halftime lead vanished so fast you could almost hear the beep-beep-beep as the Hoosiers backed up. Before long, Wisconsin was 15 points to the good -- a 25-point swing in about 15 minutes -- and the Hoosiers were out of it. They finished with just 16 points in the second half and treadmarks all over their backs, the consequence of the Badgers flat running over them.

There have been other bad losses for the Hoosiers this season; a 15-12 record and 5-9 mark in the Big Ten has provided plenty of examples. But this one stands out, and will sting longer, because the timing of it is especially ruinous.

It happened, after all, in the very shadow of March, when teams with tournament aspirations are supposed to be polishing their resumes. Last night, Indiana did whatever is the opposite of that. If there are quality wins, then this was a quality loss, in the sense that it so clearly swayed in the wrong direction whatever perception there is of the Hoosiers.

That perception being, of course, that the Hoosiers themselves are headed in the wrong direction.

Ben Smith's blog.