Can Robbie Avila, Indiana State make NCAA Tournament? Breaking down the Sycamores’ March Madness odds for 2024

Indiana State will play the waiting game heading into Selection Sunday. 

The Sycamores missed their chance at an automatic bid in a 84-80 loss to Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship on March 10. Indiana State (28-6) is the potential at-large team that will generate a lot of discussion on conference tournament week, but it might need some help to get in. 

The Sycamores do have a strong record. Indiana State also has center Robbie Avila – a 6-foot-10 center with nicknames ranging from Cream Abdul-Jabbar to Larry Nerd. Will that popularity and high win total be a factor in sliding the Sycamores into the Big Dance? 

The Sporting News breaks down Indiana State’s chances of making the 2024 NCAA Tournament. 

MORE: Latest bracket projections for 2024 March Madness

Indiana State and the NCAA Tournament

Indiana State had the No. 1 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, but Drake hit 11 of 18 from 3-point range in an 84-80 Arch Madness thriller. 

The MVC used to be a multi-bid league. From 1999-2007 and 2012-16, the conference placed multiple teams in the NCAA tournament every year – and Bradley and Wichita State both advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2006. Loyola and Drake both made the NCAA tournament in 2021. 

Indiana State has not made the NCAA tournament since 2011. The Sycamores’ lone Final Four appearance was in 1979, when Larry Bird led Indiana State to a 33-1 record and national championship game appearance against Magic Johnson-led Michigan State.

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Indiana State’s strength of victory

Despite the loss in the MVC championship game, the Sycamores still have a Net Ranking of 29 and their RPI is strong at 38. 

The Sycamores were 10-0 in Quad 3 and 12-1 in Quad 4 and dominated the regular season in the Missouri Valley Conference. Avila is one of five players who have double figures, and Indiana State ranks No. 8 in the nation with 84.4 points per game. This team is entertaining, and Indiana State split with Drake in the regular season. 

MORE: Meet ISU star Robbie Avila | Avila’s many nicknames

Indiana State’s weak spots

Indiana State is 1-4 against Quad 1 opponents, and that is going to be a major hang-up over the next few days. The only team with a top-30 Net Ranking with a worse record against Quad 1 is Auburn at 1-7. 

The Sycamores also played one ranked team all season – and that was a 102-80 loss to Alabama on Nov. 10. Michigan State beat Indiana State 87-75 on Dec. 30. 

With a strength-of-schedule rating of 130 – Indiana State will be at the mercy of needing other teams in major conference tournaments to lose this week to stay off the bubble. 

Indiana State’s rankings

Indiana State’s record by quadrants

  • Quad 1: 1-4
  • Quad 2: 4-1
  • Quad 3: 10-0
  • Quad 4: 12-1

Will Indiana State make the NCAA Tournament?

Indiana State is squarely on the bubble, and its projections vary heading toward Selection Sunday. 

Sporting News’ latest  projection has the Sycamores as one of the first four teams out of the tournament. 

Joe Lunardi’s bracketology has Indiana State one of the last four in with a First Four matchup against St. John’s in the East bracket. CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm does not have Indiana State in the 68-team field.

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