Sycamores getting more notice in AP, USA Today hoops polls

Jan. 29—The strength of Indiana State's beeps on the college basketball world's radar is intensifying.

ISU rose from getting a single vote in last week's Associated Press Top 25 poll to five votes this week — the 34th-most. AP released its men's poll this morning.

Five marks the most votes in the AP poll for an Indiana State team since the 2012-2013 Sycamore squad also drew five votes.

Likewise, more voters — 13 — included the Sycamores in this week's the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll. It's their season-high.

Coach Josh Schertz's team bolstered its national credentials last week with an 89-83 win at Illinois-Chicago on Wednesday, and a rousing 95-86 overtime victory over Bradley in Hulman Center. Those two Missouri Valley Conference victories kept the Sycamores alone in first place with an MVC record of 9-1 to go with their overall mark of 18-3.

As a program, ISU has broke into the actual AP Top 25 22 times — all during the Larry Bird era.

ISU appeared in the Top 25 eight times in the 1977-78 season, Bird's junior year, climbing as high as No. 4 in the country in the Jan. 16, 1978 poll.

ISU made the rankings 14 times in the epic 1978-79 season. Bird and his teammates gradually rose from No. 20 in the Dec. 11, 1978 poll to No. 2 on Jan. 29, 1979, and then finally hitting the top spot on Feb. 12 when their record climbed to 23-0. Despite not losing, ISU slipped to No. 2 the following week, and then returned to No. 1 for that season's last three polls, including the final Top 25 released on March 12, 1979.

Since then, ISU teams have received votes in 2012, 2013, 2014 and now this season, without cracking the Top 25. ISU's highest number of AP poll votes since the Bird era is five, coming on Feb. 11, 2013 under Schertz's predecessor Greg Lansing, and again in this week's poll.

ISU returns to MVC play 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Belmont, an opponent Schertz's team beat 94-64 on Jan. 13.

The Sycamores then face Drake at 6 p.m. Saturday in Hulman Center. (Tickets for that game appear to be sold out. The ISU athletics website link to Ticket Central stated Monday afternoon, "This event currently has no seats available." Contacted by phone, the ISU Ticket Office on Monday afternoon also said tickets were sold out for Saturday's Drake game.)

The Bulldogs stand in second place at 8-2, and their victories include an 89-78 win over ISU at Des Moines on Jan. 10.

Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or