Indiana men’s basketball has another non-conference schedule full of big names and accomplished programs.
The Hoosiers kick off their regular season by welcoming Florida Gulf Coast to Bloomington on Nov. 7. They close things out and enter league play following a matchup with Kennesaw State on Dec. 29.
Between those two games? Only No. 1 Kansas, No. 6 UConn and Auburn. Bill Self, Dan Hurley and Bruce Pearl are all formidable coaches, with the former two having won the past two national championships.
There’s a mix of mid-major programs and neutral site matchups in there. Let’s get into it.
Low to Mid Major programs
Indiana hosts most of these opponents at Assembly Hall in Bloomington with an exception in the case of Harvard, which will be played at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis.
These opponents are not to be taken lightly. Mid-majors upset teams before March on a regular basis, you can’t get caught sleeping or else you’ll find yourself with a rather unfortunate home loss weighing you down like an anchor come March.
That being said, here they are:
Florida Gulf Coast
- KenPom: 147
- Last year’s record: 17-15
- Last year’s finish: Loss in ASUN Tournament, First Round
Dunk city may have happened a decade ago, but the Eagles are not to be taken lightly. They travelled to USC for last season’s opener and ended up with a 74-61 win. Indiana has to be on alert for this matchup.
FGCU is led by a familiar face, former Penn State head coach Pat Chambers. He was fired the year prior to Mike Woodson’s hiring, so the two never faced one another in league play.
They weren’t particularly good in any statistical category last season, but that could change in year two.
- KenPom: 299
- Last year’s record: 17-16
- Last year’s finish: Loss in Patriot League Tournament, Second Round
Indiana welcomes the program it hired Bob Knight away from decades ago to Bloomington on Nov. 12.
Army hired former Thad Matta/Brad Stevens assistant Kevin Kuwik as the program’s new head coach this past offseason. He’d previously been on Matta’s year one staff with the Bulldogs and is a first time head coach.
With the program in rebuild, Army could be an opportunity for Indiana to see what the bench has going for it.
- KenPom: 132
- Last year’s record: 18-15
- Last year’s finish: Loss in Horizon League Tournament, Second Round
Wright State knocked off Louisville in the Yum! Center last year. Not really some shining achievement but funny to mention.
The Raiders had a decently efficient offense, especially in the post, last season. That’s not something guys on this roster haven’t seen before in the Big Ten, but it could be interesting to see how they handle that.
- KenPom: No. 227
- Last year’s record: 14-14
- Last year’s finish: Loss at Dartmouth
Things really aren’t getting better for Harvard.
The Crimson went .500 last year and lost their best player, Chris Ledlum, to Tennessee and then St. John’s. If the name sounds familiar it’s because Indiana was very in on that recruitment.
This should be a heavy Indiana crowd depending on the results of the Empire Classic game. Fun event for Indy-area alumni and fans.
- KenPom: No. 212
- Last year’s record: 22-12
- Last year’s finish: Loss in NIT, Second Round
Indiana welcomed Morehead State as its season opener last year, an 88-53 win, and is set to host the Eagles again this year.
Morehead State closed out the season well with just one loss after January 19. They went on to upset Clemson in the first round of the NIT before falling to UAB in the second round. Something to keep an eye on.
They were a pretty decent offensive rebounding team last year, so Indiana can’t let them get more bites at the apple.
- KenPom: 218
- Last year’s record: 18-15
- Last year’s finish: Loss in CBI, First Round
Indiana has welcomed North Alabama to Assembly Hall in the past. The Lions are more of an offensive team with limited turnovers and a decent 3-point shooting clip.’
- KenPom: 223
- Last year’s record: 26-9
- Last year’s finish: NCAA Tournament, Loss in First Rount (Xavier)
Indiana played a bit of a shaky game against Kennesaw State at home last year without Trayce Jackson-Davis but ended up winning comfortably. That Kennesaw State team went onto impress in league play, winning the ASUN Tournament.
They nearly upset a good Xavier team in March too, losing 72-67. Amir Abdur-Rahim was seen as a rising star in the coaching business and took the USF job this offseason. He was replaced by longtime Alabama assistant Antoine Pettway, who enters his first head coaching job.
Of note, Indiana president Pamela Whitten previously served as Kennesaw State’s president prior to her hiring in Bloomington.
Indiana’s brand is on its way to restoration under Mike Woodson.
The Hoosiers are a sought-after opponent for substantial non-conference matchups, with Indiana scheduling a home-and-home with Kansas, bringing back the series against Kentucky and competing at neutral sites with the likes of Arizona, Aurburn and UConn.
Let’s talk those games.
The Empire Classic (New York City)
Indiana is one of four team’s competing in the early season Empire Classic event this November at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It’s something of a homecoming for Mike Woodson, who was drafted by and later coached the Knicks.
Other teams at the event include reigning national champion UConn, Texas and Louisville. Woodson’s Hoosiers are matched up with Dan Hurley’s Huskies in the first game.
- KenPom: No. 6
- Last year’s record: 31-8
- Last year’s finish: NCAA Tournament, National Champion
Years ago, Dan Hurley spoke at a press conference after a loss to Villanova and had the following to say:
“You better get us now, because it’s coming.”
A month earlier, he’d lost in New York to Archie Miller’s Hoosiers. This year, he’ll face off with Mike Woodson’s program as the defending national champion.
UConn is going to be extremely good again. Donovan Clingan had to play behind Adama Sanogo last season but could be set to dominate the Big East and contend for National Player of the Year awards as the Huskies’ starting center this season. It’s noteworthy that he was in a boot for Big East media days, but he should be healthy by the time the Empire Classic rolls around.
The Huskies also have one of the top freshmen in the country, Stephon Castle, who is a close friend of Indiana freshman Jakai Newton.
Hurley had one of the best offenses and defenses in the country last year and has enough pieces to potentially defend his title come march. A win in an arena that should have a fair amount of UConn fans would be massive for Indiana’s tournament resume.
Indiana will play one of Texas or Louisville regardless of a win or loss against UConn.
- KenPom: No. 16
- Last year’s record: 29-9
- Last year’s finish: NCAA Tournament, Loss in Elite Eight (Miami)
It’s Rodney Terry’s program in Austin now.
He stepped up as an assistant after the firing of Chris Beard following a domestic violence arrest. From there, he guided the team to a Big 12 Tournament Championship and ended up nine points shy of the Final Four.
He earned the full-time gig this offseason and it’ll be interesting to see how he shapes the program.
The Longhorns were a balanced squad last season with a high-caliber offense and defense. Marcus Carr is off to Europe for a professional career, so Terry already has a substantial hole on the roster to fill.
- KenPom: No. 109 (which still feels so weird to see)
- Last year’s record: 4-28 (lol)
- Last year’s finish: ACC Tournament, loss in first round (To Boston College. By 22 points.)
They literally cannot get worse... right?
Kenny Payne has absolutely gotta start winning some, literally any games entering year two as the Cardinals’ head coach. Louisville was a national laughingstock last season with 28 losses, a few of those coming to programs like Bellarmine (!!!!) and Wright State.
The Cards lost their best player, El Ellis, to Arkansas. A highly-rated recruit left the program and went off to Australia like a month ago.
Payne added a few four-stars including Dennis Evans, who flipped from... Minnesota... to join Louisville. Evans is a legit recruit and the entire freshman class will probably earn substantial minutes.
Additionally, they landed a few transfers like USC’s Tre White, Miami’s Danilo Jovanovich and Illinois’ Skyy Clark.
Clark left the Illini before conference play last year.
They’ll definitely be interesting! Let’s move on.
Holiday Hoopsgiving (Atlanta)
- KenPom: No. 15
- Last year’s record: 21-13
- Last year’s finish: NCAA Tournament, loss in Second Round
Auburn is coming off of a “down” year, but Bruce Pearl’s program is as impressive as ever and should never really be overlooked. The Tigers lost a good amount of talent to both the professional ranks, portal and exhausted eligibility last year including Wendell Green Jr., Chance Westry, Yohan Traore, Allen Flanigan and Zep Jasper.
Pearl welcomed two freshman, one the 16th ranked player in the country and the other unranked, and one transfer, FIU’s Denver Jones.
There’s a lot of different pieces getting new minutes that’ll have to learn to play together, not unlike Indiana. Atlanta is closer to Auburn’s turf than Indiana, so the makeup of the crowd will be interesting.
It’s a homecoming for Georgia natives Kaleb Banks and Jakai Newton.
Kansas is heading to Bloomington for the second matchup of the home-and-home series between the two programs with Indiana hoping for a better result.
- KenPom: No. 2
- Last year’s record: 28-8
- Last year’s finish: NCAA Tournament, loss in Second Round
The man has a reasonable claim as the best coach in the sport right now if it weren’t for a certain dude in Queens. The Jayhawks were set for another deep run in March before narrowly falling to Arkansas in the second round.
Multiple pieces that made that squad so good like Gradey Dick and Jalen Wilson are gone. But again, Bill Self. Kansas reloaded and is the preseason No. 1 thanks to the additions of Hunter Dickinson, Nick Timberlake and a star-studded freshman class.
It’s gonna be another tough matchup, the Assembly Hall crowd is going to have to bring the energy for this one.