Indiana Basketball: Dominating Win Solidifies Hoosiers as Top Team in Big Ten

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, IN - JANUARY 23:  Tom Crean the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers gives instructions to his team during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Assembly Hall on January 23, 2013 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Indiana Hoosiers strengthened their hold atop the Big Ten standings after easily dispatching their rival, the Purdue Boilermakers, on Saturday.

Beating Purdue isn't all that much of an accomplishment this season. The Boilermakers are now 12-14 (5-8 in Big Ten) on the season. They've only picked up one win over a ranked team. Purdue lost the first meeting between these two teams by 37 points, and that was in West Lafayette, Ind.

It might be debatable as to whether the Hoosiers deserve the top spot in the AP Poll. What's not up for debate is the fact that Indiana is the class of its conference. With their 83-55 win, the Hoosiers remain first in the Big Ten with a 12-2 record.

A big road game with the Michigan State Spartans looms on the horizon. The winner of that matchup will certainly have a rightful claim to be the best in the conference.

Until that game, Indiana deserves top billing.

The Hoosiers are unbeaten (5-0) when facing ranked teams. The Butler Bulldogs weren't ranked when they played Indiana, so that loss doesn't count against that record.

Indiana's three losses came by a total of nine points. One loss was in overtime, and another was on the last shot of the game. No other school in the Big Ten has fewer than three losses against teams in the AP Top 25.

Tom Crean has built himself one of the most complete teams in the country. The Hoosiers are scoring almost 83 points a game, while only surrendering 61.

In sophomore forward Cody Zeller, Indiana has a presence in the post and bona fide star player. He leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 16.5 points and 8.2 boards a game. He might not even be the most important player, though.

Junior guard Victor Oladipo has arguably been the engine for the Hoosiers this season. He's averaging 14.3 points and 5.9 rebounds a game. His biggest impact, though, is on the defensive end of the floor. Oladipo is one of the best perimeter defenders in the country.

He sprained his ankle in the win over Purdue (h/t SportingNews.com), so it will be interesting to see if that affects him at all down the stretch.

If Oladipo can stay healthy, there's every reason to believe the Hoosiers have the horses necessary to make a deep run come March.