There have been many "saviors" of Indiana basketball.
Luke Recker was supposed to be one, and had two strong years before transferring to Iowa (something IU fans never forgave him for), where he finished a solid college career. Hometown hero Jared Jeffries put the Hoosiers on his back during their 2002 Title Game run, but that success was short-lived as IU was out of the NCAA Tournament completely just two seasons later. Marco Killingsworth, like Andrae Patterson, had one monster night against Duke, then disappeared off the face of the earth. Heralded recruit Eric Gordon broke his wrist, and then watched the entire program crumble around him in his lone season in Bloomington. Cody Zeller made the Sports Illustrated cover, and has been a big part of Indiana's resurgence, but he doesn’t appear to be the team’s most important player.
Enter Victor Oladipo.
The guy that rated 144th overall in the Class of 2010, who shot 20% from three-point range last year, and wasn’t even the best player on his high school team (that was Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant) maybe hasn’t been Indiana’s “savior”, but he’s been the MVP of the #1 Hoosiers this season.
Giving one player all of the praise for IU’s resurgence is unfair – Tom Crean deserves a ton of credit, as do players like Zeller for initiating the turnaround a season ago, as well as Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls for sticking with the program through the lean years. However, from an overall standpoint, there likely hasn’t been a player nationally that has had more of an impact on his team this season than Oladipo. The junior guard has been critical in each of Indiana's biggest wins of the year, most notably the two Michigan State victories where he’s combined to total 40 points (on 23 shots), 16 rebounds, 11 steals, and 4 blocks. His scoring average has nearly doubled (7.4 ppg to 14.0 ppg) since his freshman year, and his three-point field goal percentage has sky-rocketed to over 50%. However, it doesn't do Oladipo justice to evaluate him on numbers alone. His impact is felt defensively, and through his basketball IQ (see the off-the-back of Costello dunk on the in-bounds play last night). He is often IU’s go-to-guy in a pinch because of his ability to create - either for teammates or for himself. The tentacles of Oladipo’s overall game reach into every aspect of Indiana’s success.
"Saving" Indiana basketball requires winning a National Championship, something the program hasn't done in over a quarter-century, and that's certainly no given. However, with a player like Oladipo, it's hard not to like their chances.