THREE YEARS ago, basketball-mad Indiana suffered the ultimate March indignity: Not a single school from the state made it into the NCAA tournament. But the Hoosier state has rebounded with a vengeance. Butler, Indiana, Notre Dame and Purdue are all nationally ranked and should be locks to go to the Big Dance. And Indiana University-- Purdue University at Indianapolis ( IUPUI) could make it five if it can beat Oral Roberts in the Summit League title game, which is scheduled for Tuesday.
Indiana sent five teams to the NCAAs in 2003, but none of them advanced beyond the Sweet 16. This year the state could make a bigger noise. Notre Dame has star power with Luke Harangody; Butler has senior leadership with guards A.J. Graves (left) and league player of the year Mike Green; and Indiana has the inside-outside threat of senior forward D.J. White and freshman guard Eric Gordon. But Purdue might have the brightest future. Its two leading scorers are freshmen, guard E'Twaun Moore and forward Robbie Hummel, who combine to average 24.1 points and 9.7 rebounds a game. The Boilermakers may yet be the toast of the state.