James Madison, a university named after the Father of the Constitution, hoped to pull off the mother of all upsets.
Top-seeded Indiana put that dream to rest with a powerful statement in the opening minutes Friday in the second round of the NCAA tournament at UD Arena.
The Hoosiers opened the game with a 9-0 run and rode that momentum to an 83-62 victory. Coach Tom Crean worried about a brutal Big Ten schedule wearing down his team, but the Hoosiers reassured him early in the week.
“Our first walk-through Wednesday night in the ballroom at the hotel, there was no question they were ready to go,” Crean said.
Watching No. 1 seed Gonzaga struggle before beating No. 16 seed Southern on Thursday reinforced the need for Indiana not to overlook the Dukes.
Freshman guard Yogi Ferrell appeared to take that possibility more seriously than anyone, scoring the Hoosiers’ first nine points and 14 of their first 16. Less than six minutes into the game, the Hoosiers (28-6) led 16-3.
“We know that anything can happen in the NCAA tournament,” Ferrell said. “We’ve already seen some pretty crazy things happen. We felt they were one of the better 16 seed teams.”
Indiana shot 57 percent from the field in the first half, and James Madison (21-15) shot 29 percent. Indiana led 43-22 at halftime. The second half was a formality.
“They ran faster than any team we ever played,” said James Madison’s Andre Nation, who led all scorers with 24 points. “They threw the first punch, and they threw another punch, and they kept throwing them.”
Ferrell only scored two more points after his scoring burst in the first six minutes, but he led Indiana with 16 points and eight rebounds. Will Sheehey came off the bench to add 15 points. Seven Hoosiers scored at least seven points.
“To have six guys have nine or more, to have Remy (Abell) with seven and to be able to play as many people as we did today was a big deal,” Crean said. “A couple highlights for me were the fact that Yogi had eight rebounds in this game. That means that our break is at another level when he does that. And the fact that we only turned it over nine times was key.”