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Breaking Down Indiana's B1G Conference Schedule

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While we await the release of Indiana's non-conference schedule - we at least have the B1G schedule to breakdown.

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

While the Indiana athletic department continues to delay in releasing the non-conference schedule (even though 11 of 13 games are known publically), we did finally get a look at the B1G Conference schedule late last week.

Date

Home / Away

Opponent

12/31

Away

Nebraska

1/5

Away

Michigan State

1/10

Home

Ohio State

1/13

Home

Penn State

1/18

Away

Illinois

1/22

Home

Maryland

1/25

Away

Ohio State

1/28

Away

Purdue

1/31

Home

Rutgers

2/3

Away

Wisconsin

2/8

Home

Michigan

2/11

Away

Maryland

2/15

Home

Minnesota

2/19

Home

Purdue

2/22

Away

Rutgers

2/25

Away

Northwestern

3/3

Home

Iowa

3/7

Home

Michigan State

To better summarize the above - here is how the B1G Schedule breaks down:

Home only: Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Penn State
Away only: Illinois, Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin
Both: Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers

The Hoosiers are going to open with a very tough stretch at Nebraska and Michigan State before returning home to play Ohio State. Nebraska will likely be predicted to finish in the Top 4 or 5 in the conference if not higher after their success last season and lack of any major departures from last year's team.  Michigan State may be down a bit compared to normal, but I have a feeling they will be just fine in the Breslin Center.  Ohio State will also be one of the top teams in the conference once again this season and Indiana will need to rely on the typically raucous crowd to make sure they can get by the much taller Buckeyes. If Indiana fans are looking for a silver lining in this stretch - it is that most Nebraska fans will likely be traveling to where ever the football team is playing its bowl game and the Michigan State students will also still be on Winter break for the January 5th tilt in East Lansing.  I think it would be a huge success to come out of this opening three game stretch at 2-1 and I think the most likely scenario is 1-2.

The next four games ease back a bit, but not a whole lot. The Hoosiers will be looking for revenge against Penn State at home after its epic collapse last season in the final minutes. Illinois is going to be a much improved team this year, and I would not be at all shocked to see them near the top of the standings come March. The game will also be played in the other Assembly Hall which hasn't been especially friendly to Indiana lately either. The Hoosiers will then get a new conference foe in Maryland at home which will be an intriguing matchup and a repeat of the 2002 National Championship game before returning to the road to once again play the Ohio State Buckeyes. I see Indiana pulling out a 2-2 record in some form or fashion here.

At this point, Indiana is 3-4 in the B1G and in need of a couple winnable games - and the B1G is trying to deliver that. The Hoosiers will travel to Purdue before getting to face the other new conference team - Rutgers at home. Purdue handed the Hoosiers their worst loss of the season last year, but like Indiana, lost a lot of players this offseason. It will be interesting to see how this game plays out and could be the barometer for how the rest of the season goes for the Hoosiers. The Rutgers are going to finish last place in the B1G and the Hoosiers should blow past them at home. Indiana then goes to Wisconsin and then returns home to play Michigan. Wisconsin is expected to run away with the conference this year and the Hoosiers are almost certainly going to lose in Madison. The Michigan game is much more intriguing. The Wolverines are also depleted compared to last season and the Hoosiers seem to have their number in Bloomington. If Indiana could go 3-1 in this stretch, it would be huge for the NCAA Tournament hopes. I am going to predict 2-2 as I could see the team losing focus for one of the 3 games outside of Wisconsin.

Indiana travels to Maryland next in what will likely be a crazy environment and a tough game to win. However, after that game - the schedule really lightens up the rest of the way. The next four include home games against Minnesota and Purdue and road games against Rutgers and Northwestern. That is a stretch Indiana should go 4-0 in and really catapult their way up the standings. They close the season with Iowa and Michigan State in Assembly Hall and will certainly have a realistic chance to close the season on a tear at 6-0. I think Indiana will in fact turn it on and finish the last seven games 5-2.

Overall, that would put Indiana at 10-8 in conference play. Will that be enough to get them into the postseason? That probably depends a lot on what happens in non-conference play as the strength of schedule should be dramatically increased from a year ago. We await the release of the full schedule, but some non-conference high major opponents that are known are SMU, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Georgetown, and Butler. If the Hoosiers could knock off 3 or 4 of these schools - it would go a long way in getting Indiana back into the NCAA Tournament with a 10-8 conference record.

Stay tuned to BTPowerhouse for analysis of the Non-Conference schedule when released by Indiana.