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Mike Lopresti | | March 21, 2023

4 losses in 96 hours crushed the state of Indiana's title hopes

Full final 1:34 from Miami (FL)'s upset over Indiana

This question just in from the 19th state in the Union:

Exactly when and why did March start hating Indiana?

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It’s a pertinent topic since the case could be made that we just saw the most painful NCAA tournament weekend in the history of the state. Ever. "Hoosiers" was never like this.

Down went the Purdue women in the First Four in Columbus. The Boilermakers rallied from 15 points behind to tie St. John’s, then were beaten on a baseline floater with 0.3 seconds left. The disappointed Purdue players included biochemistry major Cassidy Hardin, who had put off medical school for a chance to play in March. “I don’t regret coming back for a second. This is where I wanted to be,” she said. But? “It ended quicker than I wanted it to.”

Down went the Purdue men, Zach Edey and all, and not four miles away in Columbus from where the women fell. The Boilermakers were done in by the one-two punch of Fairleigh and Dickinson. Also lousy shooting and lots of turnovers. This was No. 1 seed vs. No. 16, which is supposed to mean win and move on for the big fish, or at least it had 147 of 148 times before. The defeat was historic and humiliating and a belly flop so profound, had the Boilers landed in water it would have caused a tsunami. “There’s nothing you can say that’s going to change it,” coach Matt Painter said. So this loss to a No. 16 seed goes on the Purdue wall of bad dreams next to the loss to a No. 15 seed last season and a No. 13 the year before. A threepeat nobody would want.

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Down went the No. 4 seed Indiana men against No. 5 Miami in the second round. The Hoosiers were pummeled on the boards and plowed over by 16 points on the scoreboard. “When I look at the stat sheet and look at the paint points and rebounding, that’s not Indiana basketball,” coach Mike Woodson said. “We didn’t compete.”

Down went the No. 1 seed Indiana women in the second round, never mind they were Big Ten season champions playing before a packed house in Bloomington, where they were 17-0. Indiana had simply never had a women’s team this accomplished. The Hoosiers fell behind by 14 points, charged back to tie the game four times in the fourth quarter, but could never get the lead. They lost on a Miami jumper in the final three seconds by a player with the first name of Destiny. Really. “The thing I think hit every ounce of rim and went in,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said.

Hold it. Miami? That Miami? You mean in 24 hours the IU men and women were knocked out of the tournament in the same round by the same school? Has to be some sort of history. Just like Purdue with a 7-4 center losing to the shortest team in the country.

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“It stings. It hurts,” Moren said of the Indiana women's shocker. “But it should if you’re competitors and it means anything to you. Like I told them, if they didn’t have tears and they weren’t emotional, I would wonder what all the hard work was for.”

At least their misery had company. Stanford was upset the night before, making this the first time in 25 years two No. 1 seeds in the women’s bracket didn’t get past the first week.

Even Larry Bird’s old school took a gut punch. Indiana State made it to the quarterfinals of the CBI tournament Monday afternoon but lost 89-88 in overtime to Eastern Kentucky, missing three shots in the last four seconds.

So it was a parade of unhappy endings in the state that gave us Oscar Robertson, John Wooden and Orville Redenbacher's popcorn.

They had all hoped for more. The Purdue women, a program in revival mode, thought they had a shot at their first NCAA tournament victory in six years. And the Purdue men were confident they had the goods to get to the first Final Four in 42 tournaments. And the Indiana men had designs on their first Sweet 16 in seven years. And there was no visible reason why the Indiana women, with nine wins over ranked opponents, couldn’t get to their first Final Four ever.

All that swirled down the drain in about 96 hours. The coaches were left to try to put the Lost Weekend in perspective.

“I’ll sleep on this tonight and get up tomorrow and start a fresh day, start trying to figure out how we can get better,” Woodson said.

“Their plans were to win a national championship and we have no problems talking about that goal,” Moren said.

“It’s got to sit with you, man. It’s got to sit with you to get you to work harder, not talk about it,” Painter said.

“I told our group we were playing with house money out here,” Purdue women’s coach Katie Gearlds said “There’s not one single person walking this Earth that believed Purdue was going to be in the NCAA tournament outside of our locker room.”

There were a lot of noteworthy things from the first two rounds. Including how this was the weekend March used brass knuckles on the state of Indiana.

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