Friday, August 31, 2012

Are You Ready For Some Indiana Basketball?

Yes, it’s official -- Central Connecticut State has replaced Kentucky in Indiana’s non-conference basketball schedule. Rather than play the Wildcats in Lucas Oil Stadium, or the equally intriguing Louisville in Assembly Hall, both of which would have generated HUGE national interest, acclaim, exposure and cash, the Hoosiers settled for a Northeast Conference also-ran that finished 13-16 last season.

Oh, well.

IU released its basketball in conjunction with the Big Ten’s schedule release. The good news is that powerhouse North Carolina is coming to Assembly Hall. That’s set for Nov. 27 as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

The not-so-good news, at least for those who travel with the Hoosiers, is that New Year’s Eve will be spent in Iowa City. IU opens Big Ten play on that date at Iowa. For the previous three New Year’s Eves, the Hoosiers have opened conference action at home -– twice against Ohio State, once against Michigan.

That also will be the Hoosiers’ first true road game. Is it a good idea to not have any true road test until the Big Ten season? Logic suggests no, but then logic also would have suggested maintaining the Kentucky series (which has lasted since 1969), and kicking the Wildcats’ behinds for a bunch of years in the high-profile setting of Lucas Oil Stadium (yes, IU officials preferred to maintain on-campus settings, but Kentucky officials had enough of that after losing at Assembly Hall last December).

Yes, coach Tom Crean has built the program to the point where it could have dominated the Wildcats, but now we’ll never know.

Oh, well.

Iowa, by the way, will not be an easy game, even for an Indiana team that figures to be a national title contender.

The Hoosiers will also get to travel to Brooklyn as part of the Legends Classic. They’ll play Georgia on Nov. 19 and either UCLA or Georgetown. First, though, they’ll open the tournament with Assembly Hall games against North Dakota State and Sam Houston State.

The Hoosiers also will play Butler on Dec. 15 as part of the Crossroads Classic at Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

They will play 13 non-conference games and 10 will be at Assembly Hall. Also coming to Bloomington is Ball State (Nov. 25) and guarantee-game opponents such as Bryant (the Nov. 9 season opener) Coppin State, Mount St. Mary’s, Jacksonville and Florida Atlantic.

Bryant, by the way was 2-28 last season. Like mighty Central Connecticut State, it is a member of the Northeast Conference. So is Mount St. Mary's, which was 8-21 last season. Jacksonville is coming off an 8-22 season. Coppin State was 14-16.

For those looking to keep up the momentum against Purdue -- IU swept them last season -- those teams play in West Lafayette on Jan. 30 and at Assembly Hall on Feb. 16.

In terms of strength of the Big Ten, it looks like the early conference schedule is easier than the end. The Hoosiers open on the road with Iowa and then Penn State on Jan. 7, then host Minnesota and Wisconsin, play at Northwestern and then host Penn State. They could be 6-0, or 5-1.

Then it gets interesting. They host Michigan State, are at Purdue, host Michigan, then go to Illinois and to Ohio State. ESPN’s GameDay crew will be at Assembly Hall for the Feb. 2 Michigan game.

The final three weeks of the season include games against Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan before the Big Ten tourney, which returns to Chicago’s United Center from March 14-17.

Here’s what Crean had to say in a university release:

“The thing I am most excited about is that all of our conference home games are sold out. It will make for unbelievable environments, especially for GameDay.

“The Legends Classic is an excellent early season tourney that will allow us to prepare for three distinct styles in Georgia, Georgetown or UCLA.

“I like that we are able to have a game with an emerging in-state opponent like Ball State. Obviously our game with North Carolina will draw a lot of interest nationally. I think without question the Big Ten will be as good as any league in the country again this year.”


Indiana's Class of 2013 basketball group is rated No. 7 nationally by's Eric Bossi. It consists of shooting guard Stanford Robinson (ranked No. 48 in the class), No. 113 Luke Fischer, No. 119 Devin Davis and Collin Hartman, a three-star player.

It's a strong follow-up to Crean's Class of 2012 group that rated top-5 nationally.

These rankings can change, of course (82 of the top 150 players remain uncommitted), but as of now, Florida has the No. 1 class for 2013 by virtue of having two top-10 picks in Chris Walker (No. 6) and Kasey Hill (No. 7). Kansas is No. 2 followed by Marquette, Michigan, Memphis and North Carolina.

Purdue's class of Fort Wayne's Bryson Scott and Kendall Stephens is rated No. 9.

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