INDIANAPOLIS — A team manager, blinded with delirium, careened recklessly through the bowels of Gainbridge Fieldhouse, nearly taking out 2 different sets of media members who he likely never saw.

“How ’bout them Hoosiers?” he shouted.

How ’bout them, indeed.

For Indiana fans, Thursday afternoon’s stunning 74-69 win over Michigan was a moment 6 years in the making. It means the Hoosiers are almost certainly heading to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2016.

Given that Indiana fan patience measures in dog years, that’s an eternity for this program.

“This is probably the biggest win for our program in such a long, long time,” correctly noted first-year coach Mike Woodson, who was able to evade most of the preceding pain while in the NBA.

For junior center Trayce Jackson-Davis, this is the first time he’s won a postseason game as a Hoosier.

“I’ve never played on Friday,” he noted.

Obviously, the cancelled pandemic postseason of 2020 is partially responsible. But the idea of a star Indiana University basketball player not winning a postseason game until his third season remains remarkably jarring for a program with this kind of lineage.

Indiana hasn’t even made the Elite 8 of the Big Ten tournament since 2017.

For the first 30 minutes of Thursday’s game against the Wolverines, it looked like Jackson-Davis was about to wrap up another year without tasting postseason success.

Michigan came into this game with 9 straight wins over Indiana. That streak included an 80-62 blowout in Bloomington that was IU’s worst performance of the season.

Michigan’s offense has been a riddle the Hoosiers haven’t been able to solve. And that remained true well into their first-round matchup. The Wolverines shot 43.8% from the field in the first half, and built up a 60-43 lead with 11 minutes remaining.

Indiana seemed destined to sleepwalk its way to an NIT bid.

And then the Hoosiers made like Rip Van Winkle, awaking from a 6-year slumber with a jolt.

A defensive clinic

From the moment Eli Brooks made a layup to put the Wolverines up 17 with 12:52 to play, 11 minutes and 10 seconds elapsed before Michigan made another field goal.

That’s nearly a full quarter of an NBA game.

This was no mere case of Michigan going ice cold, either. Of the 13 consecutive shots missed by the Wolverines, no more than 3 or 4 were quality looks. There was a Hoosier hand hovering over every Michigan shooter’s eyeballs or swiping the ball away.

“They just came out being more physical than us,” said Michigan point guard DeVante Jones. “They brought more energy, more effort in the second half.”

That energy carried off the floor. A good 95% of the fans at Gainbridge Fieldhouse were wearing red, but the first half felt like it was played at a side gym of an AAU tournament. With each Hoosier stop, the place came to life in a way this venue hasn’t felt in years.

“That was huge for us,” said Trayce Jackson-Davis, who scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half.

By the time the rally was over and Indiana’s fight song played, the Hoosiers closed the thing out with a 28-9 run.

Michigan finished the game making just 2 of its final 17 shots — 11.7% shooting.

The only question is whether that’s already enough for this Indiana team to go dancing.

The work should be done for Indiana

With a loss, Indiana was done. Woodson himself was aware this was probably the case, even if he isn’t versed in the ways of bracketology thanks to his time in the NBA.

“This game was huge for this program,” Woodson said. “We lose today, and I don’t know what the committee is going to say or do about Indiana University basketball.”

The Hoosiers are now going to force the committee to do the right thing — especially with other bubble teams faltering during conference tournament week. Michigan should feel a heck of a lot more uncomfortable than Indiana right now, though the Wolverines have probably done enough to reach the First Four.

Of course, Indiana can make all of this academic by beating top-seeded Illinois in the quarterfinals. At that point, there’s no quantifiable way the committee can leave the Hoosiers out.

A win against Illinois is obviously a tall task. The Fighting Illini beat the Hoosiers by 17 at Assembly Hall last month.

But as these Hoosiers showed on Thursday, a 17-point deficit isn’t such a big deal to overcome.