Mar 23, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Indiana Hoosiers forward Cody Zeller (40) dunks the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half during the semifinals of the south region of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE
Indiana has released its full basketball schedule for the 2012-13 season. Something that isn't a surprise but still is a disappointment is that IU has not replaced what should have been a road game against Kentucky with another top flight road game. In fact, IU does not play a single true road game until the Big Ten season begins. It's a nice schedule, but I would prefer a road trip to someplace like Louisville or Kansas to be in the mix. More thoughts below:
Here are the 2012 Pomeroy ratings for IU's nonconference foes:
North Dakota State: 168
Sam Houston State: 293
UCLA or Georgetown: 43 or 13, respectively
Ball State: 216
North Carolina: 7
Coppin State: 279
Central Connecticut State: 211
Mount Saint Mary's: 294
Florida Atlantic: 206
It's not an awful schedule at the bottom. Bryant is the only true dumpster dive, but MSM, Sam Houston, and Coppin State. It remains disappointing at the top. Other than UNC, Georgetown/UCLA, and Butler (which should be much better than its 110 ranking from last season), any loss would be an enormous upset. Further, the games in Brooklyn and the Butler game in Indianapolis are the only games played away from Assembly Hall. As I said, it's not a disaster, but I would feel better about it if IU faced a tough road game, or any road game, for that matter.
But on to the Big Ten schedule. IU opens conference play with two consecutive road games, at Iowa and at Penn State. This to some degree mitigates the lack of roadies in the non-conference schedule. IU lost badly at Iowa last year and flirted with disaster against PSU, but the Hoosier should be favored in both of those games this year. Certainly, they are the sort of road games that a Big Ten championship contender has to win. After that, IU plays four of its next five at home: Minnesota, Wisconsin, @ Northwestern, Penn State, and Michigan State. IU should be favored in each of its first seven conference games, which sets up a reasonable chance of a 7-0 conference record when the Hoosiers head to Mackey. That game begins what appears to be the toughest stretch of the season: @ Purdue, Michigan, @ Illinois, @ Ohio State. Purdue and Illinois aren't expected to be title contenders this season, but those games are always intense. Finally, I'm not sure if it was by design, but it sure looks as if the schedulers wanted the Big Ten title to be decided in the final week: IU hosts OSU on Senior Night and then heads to Michigan for the finale. As has been known for a while because this is the second year of a scheduling cycle, the one-offs in the Big Ten are Wisconsin and Nebraska (at home) and Illinois and Northwestern (on the road).
So, what do we think? It's certainly a respectable schedule. I would rather see one more elite non-con opponent, but given the quality of the Big Ten this season we certainly will be tested before March rolls around.
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