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Indiana’s non-conference schedule is set to get tougher under Archie Miller

Under Tom Crean, IU’s non-conference schedule became feast or famine. Under Archie Miller, that will change

Wichita State v Dayton Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Tom Crean’s many faults have been laid out and exposed over the last few weeks of his employment and in the wake of his firing.

One of the more talked-about weaknesses as a head coach was his scheduling, which we talked about early on in the season.

There’s nothing new to discuss in regards to Crean’s scheduling. IU either played cream of the crop non-conference teams like Kansas, UNC or Butler or they played sub-300 KenPom-ranked teams like Mississippi Valley State, North Dakota Tech and SIU-Edwardsville.

The scheduling got so laughably bad that you probably didn’t even realize I made up North Dakota Tech.

However, with the arrival of Archie Miller, the days of games against Houston Baptist and UMass Lowell are likely gone.

At Dayton, Miller’s non-conference schedules dwarfed IU’s in toughest, though for fair reason. Unlike IU, Dayton did not have a strong conference schedule to lean on and needed to beef up their non-conference slate for their tournament resume.

First, here’s a look at where Crean and Miller’s non-conference schedules were ranked by KenPom.

After rebuilding the program and making a run into the Elite 8 in 2014, Miller beefed up the schedule and challenged his teams.

In 2016, Miller played Xavier and Iowa on neutral courts and had seven games against top-100 KenPom teams. Likewise, 2015 and 2017 fit similar molds with games against UConn (2015), Texas A&M (2015), Arkansas on the road (2015), Saint Mary’s (2017), Vanderbilt (2017) and Northwestern (2017).

Even more, over the six years listed above, Miller played six sub-300 KenPom teams with two of those coming in the first game of the season. Crean? He played three in 2017 alone and 14 over those six years.

The big difference in the scheduling is simply ridding Indiana of really, really bad teams and replacing them with mediocre ones. You don’t need a schedule full of bluebloods and national powers. Miller’s schedule in 2015, which was the 23rd-toughest, had three games against top-30 teams with No. 14 Xavier being the toughest.

However, there were only two games against teams sub-200, one on opening night against Southeast Missouri St. and one against Miami (OH) three days before Christmas.

The last time the Hoosiers had a top-100 non-conference schedule is 2009. That season, IU played just one sub-300 KenPom team.

For Miller, non-conference scheduling is something he’s already stated he plans on focusing on at Indiana.

“Well, the non-conference scheduling component is probably the second most important thing you do as a coach other than recruit.” said Miller. “Here at Indiana University, non-conference scheduling is about finding a way to put yourself in a great position in terms of seeding. You know, you have to be the master of creating a non-conference schedule that, one, creates great excitement with your fans; two, challenges you at the highest level as you enter the Big Ten; and three, puts you in a non-conference résumé that stacks up with the best teams in college basketball. That's what will be our goal.”

For 2017-18, the schedule is essentially wide open and already looking beefed up. Indiana will continue their series with Louisville with a true road game. On top of that, IU will also have a Gavitt Games match-up with a Big East school as well as a likely road game in the Big Ten/ACC challenge.

Add in a match-up with Notre Dame at the Crossroads Classic and IU already has the makings of a tough non-conference schedule. Fill in the empty spots with not SIU Edwardsville and not Austin Peay and Indiana is suddenly looking at an entirely new non-conference landscape.