Most college basketball fans and media members believe Indiana is the top team in the Big Ten coming into this season. After looking at their schedule that was just released it is clear that Indiana will have to do a lot to hold that spot by the end of the season.
Their season starts November 9th against Bryant, and then two more low level opponents before they head to Brooklyn. At the Barclays Center in Brooklyn the Hoosiers play Georgia, then either Georgetown or UCLA. Both games in Brooklyn, especially the second, will be challenges, though Indiana should be favorites.
On November 27th in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Indiana plays North Carolina at home in a clash of two storied programs. That game will be one of the highlights of the Big ten/ACC Challenge.
Indiana’s final legitimate non-conference foe is interstate school, Butler. This is a neutral site game at Conseco Field-House on December 15th.
Big Ten play begins for the Hoosiers on New Year’s Eve at Iowa, their first game at a hostile anti-Indiana arena. Their first notable conference game is on January 15th when Indiana hosts Wisconsin.
A week later Indiana has its first tough stretch of the season when they host Michigan State (January 27th), travel to Purdue (January 30th) and host Michigan (February 2nd). Every team has a rough stretch somewhere in their conference schedule, and Indiana is as well prepared to fight through it as anyone.
The rest of the Hoosiers’ tough games are relativity spread out before they conclude their regular season by hosting Ohio State on March 5th and traveling to Ann Arbor for a massive game against Michigan on March 10th. The Michigan game can be huge for both teams as they both hope to fight for the regular season Big Ten Title.
This isn’t the easiest schedule of the elite teams. It has its big non-conference games (North Carolina and Georgetown/UCLA). It also has a tough conference stretch, as all Big Ten teams will have at some point this season.
At the end of the day, if Indiana is who they are capable of being, a top five team in the country, they should march through this schedule and compete for the Big Ten title, as well as a one-seed for the NCAA Tournament.