Indiana is the favorite to win the Big Ten championship this season, but if anyone thinks the road to a title is going to be a walk in the park for the Hoosiers, forget about it.
The Hoosiers got all they could handle from the Iowa in their conference opener on Monday night, edging the Hawkeyes 69-65 on the road, the first step in what will likely be a challenging quest for a championship.
This much is for sure. Indiana head coach Tom Crean wasn’t surprised by how hard his Hoosiers had to work to nail down their first Big Ten win of the year. He was relieved Indiana got the job done.
“We know this is a huge win for us, coming in here,” Crean said in a post-game press conference. “We kept saying that if we get a win in (Iowa) it’s going to be a big deal, because not a lot of teams are coming in here and winning.”
The Hoosiers were 3-6 on the road last year and had lost their last four games to Iowa on the road. Winning a conference title will require the Hoosiers to be much better away from home this season if they are going to win the Big Ten.
Indiana has the talent to win a conference title. Cody Zeller is one of those talented players, and against Iowa, he dropped in 19 points. Victor Oladipo pumped in 14 points.
The Hoosiers did enough to get by, and now, it’s on to the next test in what will be a season full of them. The game against Iowa is typical of what the Hoosiers should expect going forward, especially on the road.
“This was truly one of those 15-round fight games that the Big Ten is full of,” Crean said in a post-game press conference. “You know, you can’t really land the knockout punch, and you don’t want it to land on you.”
At least for one night, Indiana managed to land the knockout punch.
Brian Lester is a featured Big Ten columnist and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. He is a member of the United States Basketball Writers Association as well.
Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.