The Indiana Hoosiers announced their complete 2014-15 basketball schedule. Unlike last season, IU will face much tougher competition this time around. As Indiana was clearly lacking legitimate opponents in the nonconference portion of the schedule, the Hoosiers secured a number of seasoned teams in order to provide more a challenge and get the group ready for Big Ten play. Here are the Hoosiers’ most intriguing games for the upcoming season.
5. 1/31/15 vs. Rutgers
As you know probably know by now, this year will be Rutgers’ first in the Big Ten, and the January 31 matchup is the first conference battle between IU and the new kids on the block. Rutgers is not known for its basketball program, so it will be interesting to see how it adjusts to/performs in one of college basketball’s toughest leagues. Assembly Hall is one of the most raucous arenas in the country, so the Hoosiers should be able to provide the Scarlet Knights with an appropriate welcome to the B1G.
4. 1/28/15 at Purdue
This one makes the list simply because of Purdue’s status as Indiana’s top rival and what happened last year. The Boilermakers embarrassed Indiana. It was unacceptable. This is the first chance of the season for the Hoosiers to rectify last year’s atrocious performance.
3. 11/20/14 vs. SMU
The Mustangs will be IU’s first real challenge as these two meet in the Hoosiers’ third game of the year. This is an important contest for a couple of reasons. First, a win would be a great jump start to the season. Talk about an early confidence boost.
This isn’t the SMU you are used to. Remember, just a season ago, this team won 23 games, was ranked in the Top 25 and was somehow left out of the NCAA tournament. In response, SMU finished second in the NIT. Under Larry Brown, this program has arrived, and this game will be anything but a cakewalk for the Hoosiers.
Second, if IU is on the NCAA tournament bubble, this game could either get the Hoosiers into the Big Dance or get them left at home. SMU is one of the teams Indiana added to the schedule in order to improve its tournament resume in case things in the Big Ten don’t go as planned. The Hoosiers need a couple marquee victories outside of conference play and getting to play SMU at Assembly Hall presents IU with a chance to impress the selection committee.
2. 2/11/15 at Maryland
Unlike fellow Big Ten newcomer Rutgers, Maryland does have a history of success and is used to competing in a solid conference. Though the Terrapins haven’t made the Big Dance since the 2009-10 season, they won’t be a pushover. They may have been 17-15 last season, but guess what? So were the Hoosiers.
This game intrigues me because it’s later in the season, and the Terrapins should be adjusted to the B1G. The Hoosiers will not find a friendly crowd at Xfinity Center. Maryland takes pride in its basketball program and I’m sure is rearing to show the rest of the conference that it means business.
Finally, these two programs have history. Maryland knocked off the Hoosiers with the 2002 national championship on the line. Time for the Hoosiers to get some payback. I don’t care if it was more than a decade ago. I’m still not over it.
1. 10/9/14 vs. Louisville
Two historic programs. Madison Square Gardern. National television. Yeah, this one is going to feel like March. This game is a huge opportunity for the Hoosiers. At the very least, a still relatively young team will gain valuable experience, but Indiana can at the same time make a statement to the rest of the country and build confidence.
Louisville is perennially one of the best teams in the country. The Cards always get great recruiting classes. Head coach Rick Pitino is a proven winner. All in all, this is a major test for Indiana, but I see it as a good thing. If the Hoosiers truly want to be the best, this is the kind of game they have to win.