Indiana State hopes NCAA Selection Committee is still watching

Each of the stages of grief came and went quickly for Indiana State.

Bonded by the pain of missing out of the NCAA Tournament, the Sycamores arrived at the NIT Final Four on Monday embracing an opportunity to prove themselves on a national stage.

“Excited to be playing in April,” Sycamores coach Josh Schertz said. “What a great opportunity. And certainly even added, too, the opportunity to play here in Hinkle Fieldhouse, one of the iconic venues in all of sports, not just college basketball.”

The MVC regular-season conference champions, Indiana State defeated SMU, Minnesota and Cincinnati to reach the NIT semifinals.

While attention and fanfare are at an all-time high, Indiana State is looking for more than respect.

“It would be just phenomenal for Indiana State,” Schertz said. “We talked about going in to our preparation that week where we had — between the Missouri Valley Tournament and the NCAA Selection Show — where we didn’t know if we were going to be in. We said we were going to be prepared to try to prove the committee right hopefully by being in the tournament and advancing or preparing to prove the committee wrong.

“Turns out we had to prepare to prove the committee wrong that we should have been a tournament team. I think we answered those questions. You talk about — what do they say, the best revenge is success? So it would be great to capstone this season, this journey, with an NIT championship.”

The star of the show for the Sycamores is Robbie Avila, a bespectacled 6-foot-10 forward averaging 17.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 38.9 percent from 3-point range and weighing an NIL offer from an eyewear company.

“I’m just grateful to get all this attention. It’s been a lot of fun but I’m just able to kind of use that to also shine the light on our team,” Avila said. “Obviously I think they deserve it just as much as I do because I can’t do the things that I do without them. So just being able to enjoy this whole process is what I’ve been trying to do.”