Pete DiPrimio, sports columnist and college beat writer for The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Ind., takes his best shots on the world of Hoosier basketball.

Tuesday, January 23

Look For IU To Rise In Rankings

Hey, it only took half a season, but Indiana is now ranked among the elite teams in America.

Yes, that sounds a bit dramatic, but then when it comes to the Hoosiers, don't we all love drama?

IU cracked the top-25 for the first time this season. It is No. 23 in the AP poll and No. 24 in the coaches' poll.

How big a deal is this?

"With this team, it does matter," coach Kelvin Sampson said. "It gives the kids confidence."

This could be the start of a long stay in the rankings or just a brief acclaim. That depends on tonight's game at Illinois.

The Hoosiers should win for a number of reasons -- they're a better team; they're playing better; Illinois is all beat up; Sampson can take Bruce Weber in a three-point shooting contest.

Sorry. We don't know if Sampson can beat Weber, although having seen Sampson shoot, let's just say Weber would have his hands full. Weber, of course, still smarting over the Eric Gordon recruiting, is struggling with the idea of shaking hands with Sampson before and after the game, let alone shoot baskets with him.

Anyway, the Illini could be without two starters -- Brian Randle and Shaun Pruitt -- because of injuries.

Expect a rowdy atmosphere at the start, but IU should quiet things down by the end. It will win tonight and win against Michigan on Saturday so that it will enter next week's epic showdown against No. 2 Wisconsin with Big Ten supremacy at stake.

How do we know this? Hey, we haven't been wrong since 2007 started. Just ask the wife.


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