BLOOMINGTON IN - NOVEMBER 23: Christian Watford #2 of the Indiana Hoosiers shoots the ball while defended by Samuel Chasten #35 of the North Carolina Central Eagles at Assembly Hall on November 23 2010 in Bloomington Indiana. Indiana won 72-56. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
It's finally here, barely a month before practice begins. IU finally has released its 2011-12 basketball schedule. I don't believe that any of the games are surprises. A few notes:
- IU's exempt tournament is something called the "Hoosier Invitational." As is the trend, this is a non-tournament event, with three games against (hopefully) tomato cans and then a final game against Butler, at Assembly Hall, on Sunday, November 27. That will be an eventful Thanksgiving weekend, with the Bucket game on Saturday and the basketball game Sunday.
- IU plays only two true road games in the pre-conference: at Evansville on November 16, in the Aces' new downtown arena, and against NC State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
- The Kentucky game is on Saturday, December 10 at Assembly Hall, and the only other marquee non-conference game is a week later, against Notre Dame at Conseco Fieldhouse (Purdue and Butler will be playing in the same event, the inaugural Crossroads Classic, with the idea that the matchups will flip every year (i.e., Butler-IU and Purdue-ND next year).
- For the first time in several years, IU will play a non-conference game after the Big Ten season begins. The Hoosiers will play North Carolina Central on February 22.
- Two of IU's games--the NCC game mentioned above and a game against Stetson--will be available online only.
- The Big Ten season gets off to a rough start: @ Michigan State, Ohio State at home, and Michigan State at home. Both of those home games will be played before the students return for the second semester. This is the second year in a row that IU has hosted the Buckeyes on New Year's Eve.
- Both of IU's matchups with Purdue fall in the latter half of the Big Ten season. IU plays at Purdue on Saturday, February 4, and hosts Purdue for Senior Night on March 4. Neither game drew the attention of either ESPN or CBS. I'm not sure how I feel about the Senior Night matchup at home. I think may put too much pressure on the guys, if they lose at Mackey, to avoid becoming the first senior class in 40 years to fail to beat Purdue.
- IU's only guaranteed game on CBS during Big Ten play is the January 15 trip to Ohio State, which strikes me as the least winnable game on the schedule.
- IU's first trip to Lincoln to play Big Ten newcomer Nebraska is on Wednesday, January 18. The Cornhuskers do not make the trip to Bloomington. IU's other road-only matchup is against Wisconsin.
- IU's home-only games are against Illinois and Northwestern.