Hoosiers are nation's most watchable team

Why do you love college basketball? What is it for? What purpose does it serve in your life? Can you enjoy a game only when your team wins?

Or do you also care about style? About aesthetics? About the pure joy of lightning fast, guards everywhere, relentless running and gunning? Do you unapologetically love offense? Is your enjoyment of a game affected as much by the how of the outcome as the outcome itself? Do you value the journey as much as the destination?

If so, the Indiana Hoosiers -- fresh off Saturday's 82-73 Crossroads Classic win over No. 23 Butler -- have just the team for you.

There are many reasons the Hoosiers are America's most watchable college basketball team, and all of them were on display Saturday. Tempo is a good place to start: Against Butler, the Hoosiers, who usually hover around 70 possessions per game, pushed the pace up to 75. The ball never really stops in Indiana's offense; even on made shots, Tom Crean's players sprint to inbound the ball and get it up the floor as quickly as possible. If there are any openings, IU takes them.

The best part? It works, and it's not just about speed. On Saturday, the Hoosiers shot 71 field goals (and made 30 of them), went 8-of-17 from 3 and turned the ball over just 11 times. IU entered Saturday scoring 1.24 points per possession, fourth best in the country behind only Notre Dame, Duke and Gonzaga. They average 56 percent from inside the arc and 42.1 percent beyond it. Crean's team plays fast and makes everything in sight, and the results are often spectacular.

Why play this way? It's not just a coach's preference (though that certainly helps). It's also personnel. Crean landed one of the three or four best freshman guards in the country in James Blackmon, Jr. (who didn't play well Saturday in shooting just 2-of-12 from the field), whom he starts alongside junior guard Yogi Ferrell (who was devastating in Saturday's second half and remains generally underrated), fellow impressive freshman Robert Johnson, slashing "forward" Troy Williams and center Hanner Mosquera-Perea. That five mixes with a steady rotation of shooters and role players, all of whom spread the floor.

Oh, and this designation -- most watchable team -- has as much to do with what the Hoosiers' do poorly: defense. Indiana entered Saturday allowing 1.005 points per possession, 173rd in the country. Butler fell just below that mark Saturday and finished around .97, but only because they clanged a procession of mostly open 3-pointers in the second half (and finished 3-of-16 from 3). Indiana's lack of genuine size creates easy post opportunities, no effective back-line help on penetration and real trouble on the defensive boards. This is the curse of Indiana's offensive gifts. The same things that make them great with the ball make them easy to exploit on the other end.

But hey, that's their problem! For the viewer, it's a bonus. So what if that style doesn't guarantee a win? (See Louisville 94, Indiana 74.) So what if it drives the die-hards a little bit nuts? College basketball has plenty of sloth and plenty of defense already.

If you want to have some fun with your 40 minutes, the Hoosiers' weird combination of pace, efficiency and lackluster defense is the best value proposition this sport has to offer. Win or lose, they are not to be missed.