To cap off our week-plus of basketball content, the staff has gotten together to offer our predictions for the upcoming season (stunner, we’re only optimistic!). Each staff member predicted the team’s final record, finish in the conference and finish in the tournament.
Chris Schutte: 24-7 (14-6), 3rd Place Big Ten, Round of 32
I think I’m ready to drink the Kool-Aid. The more I look at the roster, the more I see the potential for a versatile, athletic team that should be significantly improved on the defensive end. Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford is about as good of a duo that you can find in college basketball. There are role guys that each bring something different to the table. Sure, there’s question marks. Will they be able to shoot? Is the point guard spot going to continue to be a headache? I think this is going to be a team that’s always competitive in games with a chance to win. They’ll lose some games they shouldn’t (Rutger, hello), but they’ll also win some games they probably shouldn’t (Duke, hello). That’s what good teams do, and I think the Hoosiers are going to be a good team.
Kyle Swick: 25-6 (15-5), 3rd Place Big Ten, Elite Eight
If I can talk myself into this god-awful football program into winning nine games every damn August, then I can be optimistic about Indiana basketball for once. The roster has an excellent balance of veteran talent and the young, dynamic players that fill up the highlight reels in March. If the Hoosiers can figure out a workable point guard situation they’ll be alright. If a true third option can emerge behind Morgan and Langford— they could be special.
Jack Grossman: 22-9 (14-6), 4th place Big Ten, Round of 32
There might not be a better one-two punch in the country than Langford and Morgan, but there are legitimate questions about the rest of Archie Miller’s young squad. Because Indiana plays such a gauntlet of an early season schedule, the Hoosiers will show their youth a lot in November and December. Indiana could lose as many as four or five games before the new year (Duke, Marquette, Arkansas and Penn State come to mind). But Miller has a lot of talent to work with, and the Hoosiers will improve exponentially throughout the season, and have the potential to end the season on a tear. After traveling to East Lansing on February 2, IU could realistically win seven or eight of their last nine games. After an early Big Ten Tournament exit (it’s still IU’s kryptonite), the Hoosiers will earn a five seed in the NCAA Tournament and make the sweet sixteen before falling to a one seed in a highly successful second season for Archie Miller.
Alex Robbins: 23-8 (15-5) Tied-2nd place Big Ten, Round of 32
The Hoosiers are going to get off to a hot start, and after they notch back-to-back wins over Marquette and Arkansas, it’ll be obvious that this team is different. They’ll stumble around the holidays with the toughest part of the non-conference schedule but with a Big Ten schedule that is as soft as a baby’s bottom on the front end, the freshmen will ease into conference play and Indiana will go to West Lafayette unblemished in conference play. But a split with Purdue, two losses to Sparty, and two stumbles down the stretch keep them from winning the title. Another
disappointing embarrassing performance in the Big Ten Tournament, all the momentum will be gone and what once looked like a dream season will sputter to an end on Saturday or Sunday of the first weekend of the Big Dance.
Ben Raphel: 22-9 (13-7) 3rd place Big Ten, Sweet 16
There’s so much potential for this team this year. We know Morgan should have another stellar campaign and of course Langford is the most hyped IU freshman since Cody Zeller. But I can see breakout stars all across this team. Is Rob Phinissee the answer at the point? Can Damezi Anderson be a reliable scorer? How will De’Ron Davis look after the Achilles injury? Can Justin Smith and Al Durham improve in year two? And what about the excitement that Jerome Hunter brings to the table? Add in the quintessential glue guy in Zach McRoberts, and there are a lot of intriguing pieces to the lineup, and I trust Archie Miller to put it all together. I see a couple losses early, followed by a strong run in Big Ten play, including a win at home over Purdue. While an early Big Ten tourney loss bumps this team down to a 6-seed, the Hoosiers upset Kansas State in the second round (leaving Illini fans very conflicted) before losing to Villanova in the Sweet 16. Meanwhile, Purdue loses in the first weekend of the tourney, Kentucky loses to Tom Crean and UGA, and Kelvin Sampson leaves Houston for an NBA job.
Auston Matricardi: 24-7 (16-4) 2nd place Big Ten, Sweet 16
Somebody please help. I just sat down, looked at the schedule game by game and somehow accidentally convinced myself that the Hoosiers might win the Big Ten.
Early in the season I'm worried about Marquette and Arkansas. Those seem like games IU should win, but could quite easily turn into dumb losses that have us questioning how good this team really is. I've chalked up a loss against Duke already, Butler is going to be tough, of course, and for some reason I find that I'm worried about Iowa aside from the other teams atop the Big Ten.
This team oozes potential. The roster has star power in Morgan and Langford, role players with game changing potential like Smith and Phinisee, and guys that'll help hold it all together like McRoberts, all led by one of the best young coaches in the country. Seems like a good formula for success.
I also have a feeling that this year could be the launching pad for the Archie Miller era in Bloomington. It'll probably take off from here, but there's also a tiny chance it implodes under the pressure.
Jacob Rude: 23-8 (15-5), 3rd place in Big Ten, Sweet 16
Swick said it best in that if I can talk myself into Indiana football being good year after year, I can do the same with basketball. And it’s not hard to talk yourself into this team being good. Langford and Morgan will be the best 1-2 punch Indiana has had since Victor Oladipo and Zeller. But this team will be made or broken with the peripheral pieces. Is Phinisee the real deal? Can Green and Anderson provide enough shooting? Will Smith and Davis do enough to provide an inside presence?
I believe in many of those things being the case. This team will struggle early with losses to one of Marquette or Arkansas, a loss to Duke and a loss to either Butler or Louisville. But once they hit their stride, I suspect they’ll be as tough as any team to beat and will hopefully be able to put their disappointing Big Ten Tournament performance in the past and put forth a solid showing in the Big Dance.