After losing forward, OG Anunoby, power forward Thomas Bryant, and guard James Blackmon Jr., the Indiana Hoosiers are very much an unknown quantity heading into the 2017-2018 Big Ten season.
This season will mark the return of the Hoosier Classic, a 12 day tournament that brings four teams to Bloomington during the month of November. Overall, Indiana has eight non-conference games featuring some high profile opponents.
Let’s take a look at Indiana’s non-conference schedule, and predict how the revamped Hoosiers will fare in head coach Archie Miller’s first season.
-Indiana Non-Con Schedule Predictions:
-November 12th: Howard Bison (Hoosier Classic)
Last season was supposed to be different for the Howard Bison. As the preseason favorites in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Howard was led by returning MEAC Player of the Year senior guard James Daniel III. However, after a chipped bone crushed Daniels’ season, the Bison limped to a 10-24 season and 11th place conference finish.
Howard will be led by sophomore guard Charles Williams who had an incredible freshman season. He was selected MEAC Rookie of the Year after averaging 15.7 points per game. Williams notched two 30 -point performances including a season-high 37 points against Savannah State.
The Bison lose four of their top players and will be in a rebuilding mode next season. Opening at home, the Hoosiers should be able to contain Williams and start the Hoosier Classic with a strong win.
- Prediction: Win (1-0)
-November 15th: at Seton Hall Pirates (Gavitt Games)
Indiana will take part in the Gavitt Games this year, an annual eight game battle between Big Ten and Big East teams. This will serve as a tough opening road game for the Hoosiers, as the Pirates return a strong team from last season’s 22-11 NCAA Tournament qualifier. Seton Hall returns seniors starters Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington, and Desi Rodriguez to a Pirates team aiming for a Big East Championship.
Forward Angel Delgado led the nation in rebounding at 13.1 points per game, and tallied 27 double-doubles during the season en route to first team All-Big East accolades. The Pirates are incredibly balanced with leading scorer guard Khadeen Carrington averaging 17.1 points per game and receiving second team All-Big East honors as well.
This will be a difficult game for Indiana, and with their NBA Draft losses, it is a game that projects as a loss.
- Prediction: Loss (1-1)
-November 19th: South Florida (Hoosier Classic)
Indiana will return home for their second matchup of the Hoosier Classic, against the South Florida Bulls.
A year of turmoil in South Florida puts the Bulls in another transitional year. In a season that saw them fire head coach Orlando Antigua after just 13 games, the Bulls limped to the finish line with a 7-23 overall record and a 1-16 mark in the American Athletic Conference.
Under new head coach Brian Gregory, the Bulls will be in rebuilding mode again. Sophomore forward Tulio Da Silva (9.8 ppg) and junior guard Troy Holston (9.7 ppg) are the top returning players. The Bulls will also welcome in guard transfer Stephan Jiggetts (13 ppg) from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
South Florida will play Indiana as part of the Hoosier Classic on November 19th, and by all accounts this should certainly the second win of the season.
- Prediction: Win (2-1)
-November 22nd: Arkansas State (Hoosier Classic)
The third game of the Hoosier Classic features the Arkansas State Red Wolves from the Sun Belt Conference. They are another Hoosiers opponent in transition, with former Louisville assistant Mike Balado taking over the team this season.
Arkansas State finished 20-12 overall and fifth in the Sun Belt Conference. They suffered a first round upset in the conference tournament, losing to 12th seeded Louisiana-Monroe.
The Hoosier will have to stop returning second team All-Sun Belt conference guard Devin Carter. The 6-4 200 lb scorer averaged 16.4 points per game while shooting over 40 percent from three-point range.
The Red Wolves will be an underrated opponent, but we project the Hoosiers to earn their third win in the Hoosier Classic.
- Prediction: Win (3-1)
-November 24th: Eastern Michigan (Hoosier Classic)
Indiana finishes up the Hoosier Classic with a post Thanksgiving battle with Eastern Michigan. The Eagles finished the season 16-17 overall and 7-11 in the Mid-American Conference.
The Eagles graduated their best scorer, 6-3 guard Ray Lee who scored 50 points in a road win over Central Michigan on February 28th. The Eagles return junior Willie Mangum IV who averaged 15.6 points and shot 38 percent from three-point range on an astounding 247 attempts.
By all accounts, Indiana should finish off the inaugural Hoosiers classic in fine fashion by defeating Eastern Michigan for a sweep of their first four home games.
- Prediction: Win (4-1)
-November 29th: Duke (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)
The level of opponent rises dramatically when the Hoosiers host Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Last year, Indiana’s win over North Carolina in this exact spot was the highlight of the 2016-2017 season. The Hoosiers upset the third ranked Tar Heels by a 76-67 final, behind a balanced scoring attack that saw all five starters reach double figures. That is going to be the recipe for success if the Hoosiers are going to upset the Blue Devils in Bloomington next season.
With guard Grayson Allen returning for his senior season, and another great recruiting class, Duke will pose the hardest test for the Hoosiers at home all season. Sophomore Marques Bolden should fill out his 6-11 frame, and incoming point guard Trevon Duval leads a talented group of freshmen.
With Indiana boasting significantly more experience than the Blue Devils, players like senior Robert Johnson, senior Josh Newkirk, and junior Juwan Morgan can definitely provide a strong fight for the Duke neophytes. However, at this point, it’s hard to project the Hoosiers with their multiple NBA Draft declarations, pulling the early season upset.
- Prediction: Loss (4-2)
-December 9th: at Louisville
No one will accuse head coach Archie Miller of scheduling light with back to back games against Duke and Louisville early in the season.
The Cardinals lost a lot from last year’s 25-9 team. Forward Mangok Mathiang graduated, and underclassmen guard Donovan Mitchell and forward Jaylen Johnson decided to pursue their professional careers. The good news for Louisville fans was forward Deng Adel decided to return for his junior season which adds a versatile scoring option to returning guard Quinton Snider.
If this game was played in Bloomington, the Hoosiers could absolutely pull the upset. Louisville has a strong recruiting class, but after facing Duke the stage would have been set for a great Indiana win.
Louisville however, always presents matchups problems for Indiana. Last season, they played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the Hoosiers got blown out 77-62. With this game taking place in Louisville at the KFC Yum center, this one unfortunately projects as an early season loss.
- Prediction: Loss (4-3)
-December 16th: Notre Dame (Crossroads Classic)
The Hoosiers will look to stop a potential two game losing streak against the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish in the Crossroads Classic.
These two programs last met in the Crossroads Classic in 2015, with the Hoosiers earning an 80-73 victory. The Irish lose forward V.J. Beachum (14.5 points per game) and guard Steve Vasturia (13.1 points per game). But the Irish return third team All-American Bonzie Colson and starting point guard Matt Farrell to lead another potent offensive attack.
Notre Dame always shoots the three-pointer well. Guard Rex Flueger and forward Matt Ryan will stretch the Hoosiers’ defense that will undoubtedly be focused on stopping Colsen.
This is a difficult matchup for Indiana, but it is hard to see Miller’s squad losing three games in a row this early in the season. After a back and forth battle in Indianapolis, the Hoosiers project to squeak out a close victory.
- Prediction: Loss (4-4)
With a tough stretch against legendary programs and the inaugural Hoosier Classic, a 5-3 start to the season would be a solid first month for coach Archie Miller. Indiana should sweep the Hoosier Classic and then hopefully grab at least one win among the games at Seton Hall, at Louisville, home against Duke, or in Indianapolis against Notre Dame.
It certainly won’t be easy, but no one can deny that Archie Miller constructed a robust non-conference schedule for the 2017-2018 season.