With more returning starters than any team in the Big Ten this season, including four graded among the very best at their respective positions, the Indiana Hoosiers have their sights set on a Big Ten title coming off a momentum-building campaign.

Others around the league believe the Hoosiers are well-coached and will be a tough out as a team most have ranked inside the preseason polls.

“They absolutely overachieved last year, but consider the fact that they’d been underachieving for a long time,” one anonymous coach told Athlon Sports in its 2021 preseason preview. “I think Tom Allen is the real deal. I think the culture is real. That’s not put-on stuff for TV. Those kids play their asses off for him. They were a feel-good story for a lot of staffs and programs that are trying to built it slowly and not cut corners. The administration knew what they had and gave him time, and you see the results.”

Another coach says you know what you’re getting with Indiana and points to one position in particular being the most vital to the Hoosiers’ success.

“Not a ton of unknowns for them. I think they’re a completely different team with Michael Penix Jr., so how he looks going into the fall practices is their biggest question,” he told Athlon Sports.

Allen has completely changed the culture at Indiana heading into his fifth season and earlier this year recalled a time he remembered when his players lacked confidence during a transition phase.

“To me, it’s about expectations and beliefs, and when I got here we had to change the mindset,” Allen shared with Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski on his Sirius XM show. “Before there’s reality, there’s mentality and I believed we could do it here, so I think that’s where it all began. And in one of our first meetings, before we started the season, when I first got here, I had players write on a three-by-five card of what they thought our record was going to be that given season. And after they wrote the record and I said ‘okay guys, I’m sure you probably didn’t put down 12-0 so, whichever teams you said we were going to lose to – you think how many games we’re going to lose? You write down the names of the teams we’re going to lose to.’ And they kind of looked at me like ‘seriously?’ I said ‘yeah, go ahead and do that.’”

Allen said he made the players write down the expected losses and jokingly told them not to show up for the game since he wanted athletes who believed they had a chance to win them all.

The Hoosiers got the point.

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