Indiana absolutely man-handles Southland Conference foe McNeese State behind 24 from James Blackmon. Here's our quick three takeaways.
1. For the love of god, schedule somebody.
It's incredibly hard to extrapolate something from these games -- and it's not just because Indiana's taking on mid-and-low-majors. It's because they're taking on the worst of the mid-and-low majors. Morehead State and IPFW are fine enough opponents -- regional teams that at least currently rank in KenPom's Top 175 nationally. They're two teams that should at least be in the top half of their conferences, if not compete for conference titles. They're not the problem. It's 298th-ranked Eastern Illinois. Or 255th-ranked Austin Peay. Or 349th Alcorn State. Or, tonight, 314th-ranked McNeese State.
Sure, Indiana looks far better. They held McNeese State below their season average defensively. James Blackmon seems to have come out of the shooting slump that he was mired in at times on the Hawaiian Islands. They beat them more soundly than a top-10 Oklahoma team did earlier in the season. But who can really tell? Indiana is a race-tuned Ferrari that can hit 200+ miles per hour if you let 'er rip across the Bonneville Salt Flats. It's also not yet street-legal, and for good reason.
There's been some handwringing from Indiana fans and media members on social media in regard to attendance in recent games. This is the problem, Indiana's non-conference schedule is beyond atrocious. And it'll have repercussions in March, too -- Indiana certainly ain't beat nobody, Pawwwwwwwl. And as the rest of the Big Ten continues to throw up on its shoes, the Hoosiers are quickly losing opportunities for big-time quality wins that would make up for playing possibly as many as four sub-300 KenPom teams in the non-conference.
Indiana has two non-conference games left. One is a must-win, must-dominate meeting with a trending-downward Notre Dame in a de facto home game in Indianapolis. The other? Al Skinner's 333rd-ranked Kennesaw State Owls. Yuck.
There's no need for any college basketball program with Final Four aspirations to start the season to ever play any sub-300 opponent. Indiana has four in that ballpark -- and it's a total administrative failure to plan with foresight on the part of the basketball staff.
2. Tim Priller scored.
And had a steal! That was neat.
3. I made a pizza during the game, as well as did some dishes, and folded laundry.
This was the day that the Kentucky game fell on in past years -- Indiana's major national showcase game. Kentucky replaced Indiana with a trip to UCLA and and, today, a matchup with Arizona State at home. Indiana replaced Kentucky with a glorified Windows 98 screensaver for your television.
Indiana returns to the court next Saturday in Indianapolis against Notre Dame. It will be Indiana's first watchable game since their 20-point loss on the road at Duke on December 4.