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Breaking Down Indiana's Non-Conference Schedule

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It took a lot longer than most schools, but Indiana finally released its non-conference schedule today. It appears much tougher than a year ago and a former Hoosier coach will make an appearance in Bloomington.

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Hoosier basketball non-conference schedule was finally released today, even though much of it had been previously leaked or announced. So how does the schedule look this year? I try to break it down below.

Date

Home / Away

Opponent

11/10

Home (Exhibition)

Indianapolis

11/14

Home

Mississippi Valley State

11/17

Home

Texas Southern

11/20

Home

SMU

11/22

Home

Lamar

11/24

Home

Eastern Washington

11/28

Home

UNC-Greensboro

12/2

Home (B1G / ACC Challenge)

Pittsburgh

12/6

Home

Savannah State

12/9

Neutral (Jimmy V Classic)

Louisville

12/13

Home

Grand Canyon University

12/20

Neutral (Crossroads Classic)

Butler

12/22

Home

New Orleans

12/27

Neutral

Georgetown

The first item of note is the second regular season game - Texas Southern. This might not sound like much, but when you consider the fact that their current head coach is Mike Davis - it takes on a whole new meaning. Coach Davis was at the helm for the most successful season of the 2000s when he took the Hoosiers to the National Title game which ended in a loss to Maryland.  After struggling for several seasons after that, he was let go under heavy pressure from the Hoosier fan base, many of which didn't think he deserved the job in the first place, and Kelvin Sampson was brought in. We all know how that turned out. It will be interesting to see what the reaction to the introduction of Davis is like at Assembly Hall. Will he be cheered for his efforts in Bloomington or booed? That will likely be debated on message boards from now until tip-off.

Next up for the Hoosiers is Southern Methodist University and Coach Larry Brown. This game would have been a lot bigger if Emmanuel Mudiay hadn't decided to forgo college for a $1.2M contract in China. He was the nation's #1 point guard and SMU likely would have been at least a Top 10 team with him on the roster. While they will still be good, and probably ranked, the game certainly lost a bit of its luster with Mudiay's decision. For a November game though - this is a drastic improvement for season ticket holders compared to last season.

The Hoosiers then play three more fluff games at home before the next high major opponent comes to town in the form of Pittsburgh in the B1G / ACC Challenge. Pittsburgh is also likely to be ranked or very close to ranked to start the season, so this should be another decent challenge to start a very challenging month of the Hoosier schedule. Jaime Dixon coached teams will always be tough and he will certainly develop a game plan to force the Hoosiers to win the game inside if he can.

A week later, and after one more fluff game, Indiana takes on rival Louisville in Madison Square Garden. This is a matchup most fans would like to see annually which hasn't happened yet. Louisville will also be very good again this year and MSG could be a very pro Louisville environment although there are plenty of Hoosier fans on the East Coast as well. While the Hoosiers, once again, do not play a true road game in the non-conference schedule - this could be as close as they get to that.

Over the course of the next two weeks, Indiana will take on Grand Canyon University - which I didn't even know was an actual school, a likely downtrodden Butler team who will have former Hoosier Austin Etherington on the bench in his transfer year, and New Orleans - who won't pose any threat. The non-conference schedule will then end with another challenge and another visit to Madison Square Garden to play Georgetown. Indiana knocked off the Hoyas 82-72 a couple seasons ago in the Barclays Center and will try to repeat that performance in MSG.

Overall, the schedule is clearly an upgrade from last season - but there still isn't a true road game which I think could help prepare the team for the rigors of the Big Ten Conference. Season ticket holders will get to see a couple of high major programs this year in SMU and Pittsburgh and while that may not appease everyone, I am not sure how many more high majors you would want to schedule. It would be nice to play some other local schools like Xavier, Cincinnati, Dayton, Indiana State, etc - but there are so many conflicts to making that work these days, it is likely more of a dream than reality. Obviously, most people around college basketball would like to see Kentucky back on the schedule as well, but both parties seem to be very far apart on that still.

As far as predictions going into the B1G slate? I could see the Hoosiers going 11-2 with a loss against Louisville and then one more loss out of the SMU, Pittsburgh, and Georgetown. I do not foresee the lack of a true big man playing much of a role until B1G play arrives, and that might help build confidence over the course of the first 13 games. Given my B1G conference prediction of 10-8, this would put Indiana at 21-10 overall and in good shape to make the NCAA Tournament. Now the question is - can the Hoosiers pull it off?