By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- While much has been made about Indiana's resurgent campaign, the 18th-ranked Hoosiers could soon have plenty more to celebrate with postseason play just around the corner.
Another win over archrival Purdue could help them carry plenty of momentum into next week's Big Ten tournament.
With the No. 5 seed in the conference tournament on the line, Indiana tries for a two-game sweep of the surging Boilermakers as both schools conclude their regular-season schedules Sunday night.
After going a Big Ten-worst 28-66 during coach Tom Crean's first three seasons with the program, the Hoosiers (23-7, 10-7), who won just 12 games in 2010-11, are the most improved team from a BCS conference.
"When we first got here, we talked about uncharted water. It was for everybody," Crean said. "It's the same thing now, when you're climbing and you're getting better. We cannot get caught up in anything but that climb and making that climb better."
Indiana continued its turnaround and improved to 17-1 in Bloomington with its third win over a top five team Tuesday, knocking off No. 5 Michigan State 70-55. Freshman standout Cody Zeller scored a team-high 18 points and helped limit the Spartans to 39.2 percent from the floor.
"When we beat top teams like that we're nasty, we're scrappy, we're fighting," senior Verdell Jones III said. "But we haven't accomplished anything yet."
The Hoosiers also used a stifling defensive display to win 78-61 at Purdue (20-10, 10-7) on Feb. 4, holding the Boilermakers to 29.6 percent shooting en route to snapping a five-game skid in the series. Indiana, however, hasn't defeated the Boilermakers twice in the same season since 2005-06 and could have its hands full in this one.
Purdue has won five of six, with that lone loss coming 76-62 to then-No. 7 Michigan State on Feb. 19. Four days after handing then-No. 11 Michigan its only home loss with a 75-61 win, the Boilermakers cruised to an 80-56 victory over Penn State on Wednesday.
"I think they've opened up on both ends," Crean said. " ... They're shooting the ball with a ton of confidence, and they are playing very fast. To me, their movement without the ball and the way the ball moves, is what really stands out about how they're playing, and they are defending at a high level."
Senior Robbie Hummel has come up huge for Purdue during its run, averaging 23.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest. The Boilermakers are 10-1 when Hummel scores at least 18 points.
"In the last half of conference play, Robbie Hummel's been one of the best players in our league," said coach Matt Painter, whose team is averaging a Division I-low 8.7 turnovers. "He's rebounding the ball, he's scoring the ball, he's been very, very consistent."
Hummel scored 16 points and pulled down 10 boards versus Indiana last month but went just 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) from the floor. He could be in for another long night in front of what should be a raucous crowd at Assembly Hall.
"I think the atmosphere will be incredible. It will be one of the best that we've witnessed and deservedly so. Our fans are excited," Crean said.
"We've got to stay really focused on what we're doing - which is the game plan and how hard you have to play and how tough you have to be. That's what our focus is more than anything else."
Updated March 3, 2012