BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana has had a very successful season by any measure and is still a favorite the upcoming NCAA tournament, but a post-game celebration after Tuesday's home loss to Ohio State on Senior Night sparked some consternation among its fan base and derision from opponents.
The Hoosiers (22-7, 12-5 in conference) have earned at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title, but the celebration was muted somewhat by No. 14 Ohio State's 67-58 win at Assembly Hall.
IU went ahead with its plan to cut down the nets after the game to celebrate the regular season run. Coach Tom Crean said that was the plan, no matter the outcome.
Indiana's senior class joined the program at a low point, when the Hoosiers were in the cellar of the Big Ten.
"There was no question we were going to do that. These guys have earned that. I have a responsibility to them," Crean said. "You play the way you play in this league, you deserve to cut the nets down. Obviously, everybody (wishes) this would have been a win, but it wasn't, but we are still going to do it."
Senior Jordan Hulls, who tallied eight points in the game, backed Crean's contention that the team still had good reason to celebrate.
"Obviously, we didn't like to lose, but we did earn the right to cut down the nets. We're happy with that, but we definitely would have liked to have won," Hulls said. "We can't dwell on that. We just have to get back at it tomorrow and prepare for our next game."
College basketball message boards were abuzz about the celebration Tuesday night and on Wednesday. On Peegs.com , an IU basketball message board, reaction was mixed.
"There was plenty of time to celebrate later. I do not get it at all," one IU fan posted.
Others thought the net-cutting was justified.
"It deserves to be celebrated, and those guys deserve to do it on their final home game of their careers, even if it doesn't sit well with you or others," another fan posted.
Fans of opposing teams skewered IU's celebration online.
"Crean, by doing the festivities and the cutting of the net denigrated what the team has not yet accomplished," read a post from a commenter on GoldandBlack.com , a Purdue fan message board.
"I wonder if they are getting rings for that game as well?" one poster said on a Butler fans message board .
Indiana closes out the regular season at Michigan on Sunday. The No. 7 Wolverines are undefeated at home this season.