On this, the day Indiana basketball officially turns a corner into a new era in the program’s storied history, Crimson Quarry takes a look at the 2017-18 schedule and previews what we might expect from various stretches throughout Archie Miller’s first season at the helm.
Feeling themselves out
Dates: November 10 - November 24
The opponents: The first six contests of the season provide the 2017-18 Indiana Hoosiers a nice balance between better-than-usual early season competition, opportunities for tuning-up, and a measuring stick game.
The club opens play tonight at the Assembly Hall against an always tough-minded, competitive Indiana State team that would love nothing more than to come to Bloomington and spoil the kickoff party for the Miller era. Four of the next five contests will feature creampuffs Howard, South Florida, Arkansas State, and Eastern Michigan, all games that are true relics from the era past, a Tom Crean scheduling special, if you will. But between the Howard and South Florida contests, in just the third game of the season, the Hoosiers will face a strong early-season test as they go on the road in the Gavitt Tipoff Games and face Seton Hall in Newark.
What we might see: This should allow the Hoosiers to get off to a fast start, even if it’s not a pretty one. You should expect Indiana to be 5-1 at worst at the end of this stretch, but 6-0 may be a tall order. Seton Hall opens the year ranked No. 23, and returns enough experience, led by Angel Delgado, that some Pirates fans are dreaming of contending for a Big East title and making a deep run in March. More than anything, that game may provide the Hoosiers a chance to see how they measure up against the country’s higher-quality teams.
Dates: November 29 - December 16
The opponents: Games seven through 11 will let us know just where Indiana is as a program and how much work Archie has ahead of him this season. The Hoosiers host Duke to close out November before playing in two Big Ten games (thanks
dumbass Jim Delaney for moving the conference tournament to Madison Square Garden!) at Michigan and hosting Iowa. Then Indiana head to Louisville and end this murderer’s row of games with Notre Dame at the Fieldhouse in the Crossroads Classic.
What we might see: Hopefully a win against Iowa, because nothing else seems guaranteed, or even likely. Even given the recent turmoil, Louisville is still a Top-20 KenPom team and that matchup, along with a road game at Michigan, will provide the Hoosiers with hostile environments that even the experienced players are unaccustomed to seeing this early in a season. As for Duke and Notre Dame - Indiana will need to play its absolute best to have any shot with these ACC powers. 1-4 wouldn’t be a disaster. 2-3 would be a moderate success.
A chance to catch your breath
Dates: December 18 - December 29
The opponents: Next, Indiana will get three final tune-ups against the cupcakes of the world before Big Ten play really gets going. IPFW, Tennessee Tech, and Youngstown State all come to Assembly Hall.
What we might see: I don’t care what happened last year, Archie Miller isn’t losing to IPFW. These are three easy wins and you can get your Christmas shopping done and your New Year plans solidified during this stretch.
The long, cold grind
Dates: January 2 - February 3
The opponents: Indiana’s next 10 games, played over the course of 33 days, will be grueling to say the least. @ Wisconsin, @ Minnesota, Penn State, Northwestern, @ Michigan State, and Maryland, all in the span of 20 days, could make or break Indiana’s season. Then they’ll head to Champaign, host Purdue, visit Columbus, and host Michigan State to finish this stretch.
What we might see: Presumably, the Hoosiers will be somewhere around 8-5 when this stretch begins. If those of us who are pessimists mark down a trip to the Kohl Center and both Michigan State games as losses, the Hoosiers would need to at least split with Minnesota, Penn State, Northwestern, Maryland, Illinois, Purdue, and Ohio State to have any shot at making a run toward March. Give the Hoosiers at least a shot, if not an advantage, in any home game, and with Illinois and Ohio State expected to hang around in the basement of the Big Ten, there’s a real chance that Indiana could get through this stretch at 5-5 or even 6-4.
Dates: February 5 - February 23
The opponents: The final six ballgames - at Rutger, Minnesota, Illinois, at Iowa, at Nebraska, and Ohio State - are where Indiana’s season will be decided.
What we might see: Aside from the road game at Iowa, the Hoosiers will probably be favored in each of these contests. A win at Hawkeye-Carver and chalk in the rest of these games could give Indiana six straight wins heading into the Big Ten Tournament. At the very worst, a 4-2 stretch would probably put Indiana around the 17- or 18-win mark and give them a chance to play their way into the Big Dance during the conference tournament.
Dates: February 28 - March 4
The opponents: TBD
What we might see: This may be the wrong season for Indiana to flirt with the bubble. Sure, there’s the obvious that the Big Ten, aside from Michigan State, may not be a shining example of quality basketball in 2017-18. But there’s also the possibility that
dumbass’s Jim Delaney’s tournament at the Garden, which will conclude a full week before Selection Sunday, could really damage any Big Ten bubble team’s chances of making it into the NCAA Tournament. Any Big Ten team on the bubble will be a sitting duck for a week with no chance to take matters into their own hands.