Tom Crean’s whirlwind week got even crazier Monday.
Upon returning home from the Super Bowl, the Indiana coach found out he’s leading America’s No. 1 college basketball team. Again.
It was another crowning moment in a week full of big wins for the Crean clan. Indiana beat No. 13 Michigan State, archrival Purdue and No. 1 Michigan in a seven-day span, before Crean headed to New Orleans. There, he watched one brother-in-law beat his other brother-in-law for the Super Bowl title. Finally, he saw the Hoosiers reclaim the top spot in The Associated Press poll after seven weeks.
“Our guys appreciate winning. They appreciate the task that it is and I think because our older guys have been through so many hard times, they appreciate it that much more,” a weary-sounding Crean said during Monday’s weekly Big Ten conference call. “And I think our younger guys were raised on winning. Guys like Yogi (Ferrell), Cody (Zeller), Remy Abell, those guys were really raised on winning, and that helps.”
It’s the fifth straight week there is a new No. 1 team.
Duke started the current streak and was followed by Louisville, Duke again, Michigan and now Indiana. The last time there were five No. 1s in as many weeks was the last five polls of 2008-09, when it was Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Connecticut again, North Carolina and Louisville.
The Hoosiers, the preseason No. 1, held the top spot for the first five weeks of the regular season. They moved up two spots Monday after their win over the Wolverines and then-No. 2 Kansas’ loss to Oklahoma State. They received 58 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel, while Florida, which jumped two spots to second, got the other seven.
Michigan, which made its first appearance atop the Top 25 in more than two decades last week, dropped two spots to No. 3 and was followed by Duke, Kansas, Gonzaga, Arizona, Miami, Syracuse and Ohio State.
The change at the top of the poll came as no surprise in Bloomington.
Even before Saturday’s game ended, fans were chanting “No. 1, No. 1.”
“We’ve been playing with a chip on our shoulder since the day I got here,” junior swingman Victor Oladipo said Saturday. “We’ve got to continue to play with that chip because it can be taken away at any time.”
Indiana found that out the hard way with an overtime loss to then-unranked Butler on Dec. 15.
For the next seven weeks, the Hoosiers were trying to get back to No. 1.
The only stumble was a home loss to Wisconsin. But last week, they played their best basketball all season, leading almost from start to finish in all three games and handing Purdue its worst home loss ever.
For Crean, that was just the start of the whirlwind weekend.
He flew on a private plane Sunday morning to New Orleans, where he watched the Super Bowl with his wife, Joani, the sister of John and Jim Harbaugh.
“It’s really hard certainly for Joani and her parents because you’ve got such great joy for one and such pride,” Crean said.
He received a text message Sunday from Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who has had three children play college sports, that Crean showed to his father-in-law late that night.
“He said as a parent, you’re only as happy as your unhappiest child, and I think it’s an amazing statement and one of the most profound things that I’ve ever heard, and it probably fits what Joani’s parents are going through,” Crean said. “But in a sense, it could be a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so there’s incredible joy in being able to be a part of it and see it.”
Crean was scheduled to return home Monday afternoon, in time for practice after a mostly sleepless night.
There were four newcomers to the poll this week: Georgetown, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, all of whom were ranked at some point this season. They replaced Wichita State and Mississippi, which both lost two games last week and fell from 15th and 16th; North Carolina State, which was No. 6 in the preseason poll and also lost twice last week; and San Diego State.