Indiana held the No. 1 spot in the polls for much of the college basketball season, but the Hoosiers had a difficult time getting past the No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Hoosiers trailed a scrappy Temple squad for much of Sunday’s matchup before a late three-pointer allowed Indiana to pull ahead for good and earn a 58-52 victory. With the win Indiana moves on to the Sweet Sixteen and keeps the team’s championship hopes alive.
Temple star Khalif Wyatt almost dashed those dreams, though. The Atlantic 10 Player of the Year had 31 points to put Temple ahead for much of the game, but was shut down over the final three minutes as the Hoosiers seized control.
Indiana trailed the game by four with close to three minutes remaining, then ended the game on a 10-0 run.
After the game, Indiana head coach Tom Crean had plenty of praise for Temple.
“Temple, like I said to our players in the huddle, they’re as tough a team physically and mentally as we faced all year, and we faced the best all year in the Big Ten,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “They take a backseat to nobody. This was a hard-earned victory that can only make us better.”
Temple almost became the second team to knock of a No. 1 seed in the tournament. On Saturday, the Wichita State Shockers stung a shaky Gonzaga squad to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
After its win over Temple, Indiana now will go on to play the suddenly hot No. 4 seed Syracuse. After stumbling through the end of the regular season, the Orange turned it on for the final Big East Tournament before it finally ran out of gas in the second half of the championship game against Louisville.
But Syracuse picked it up again in the NCAA Tournament, winning convincingly over No. 13 Montana and No. 12 California. Beating the Indiana Hoosiers would be a much bigger challenge, however.