Indiana Basketball: With Big Ten in flux, Hoosiers faced with opportunity

Indiana basketball (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Indiana basketball (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

The Indiana basketball program has a great chance at adding quality wins to its resume over the next month, and also push to the top of the Big Ten.

Though it’s just halfway through January, the Big Ten has already been one of the craziest conferences in recent history and look to be the best conference from top-to-bottom once again. As it looks, anywhere from 9-11 teams from the conference will make their way into the NCAA Tournament, and the Indiana basketball program has a golden opportunity staring them right in the face.

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Just a week ago, the world was falling apart as everyone wanted to fire Archie Miller for barely escaping Northwestern at home, following up a blowout loss on the road to Maryland and a home loss to Arkansas. Now, the Hoosiers have won two in a row, including a big win over No. 11 Ohio State and sit just 1.5 games out of first place in the Big Ten.

What is crazy, is that from 1-14, only 3.5 games separate the two programs, Michigan State and Northwestern, and only 1.5 games separate 1-6. Why is that? Big Ten teams can’t win on the road.

So far this season, home teams are 32-5 in conference play and have knocked off the top three teams in the league in blowout fashion. Michigan State (by 29 vs Purdue), Maryland (by 18 vs Iowa), and Illinois (by 20 vs Michigan State) have all been routed on opponents’ home floors. So after looking at Indiana’s losses to Wisconsin and Maryland, while still bad, it has become the norm in the Big Ten.

So sitting at fourth in the conference, Indiana is in a perfect opportunity to not only add quality boosting wins to its resume, but to also compete for the Big Ten regular season title. Yes, I’m pretty sure everyone thinks this is crazy, but ifand it’s a big if, Indiana can play like it did this weekend against Ohio State, then it is not out of the realm of possibility.

The next three weeks will tell fans a lot about this Indiana team, however. In the next six games, the Hoosiers travel to Rutgers, Nebraska, Penn State and No. 21 Ohio State, and have home games against No. 15 Michigan State and No. 17 Maryland. We just talked about how difficult it is to win on the road, but if the Hoosiers can somehow go 2-2, or even 1-3, in that span they will easily pick up a game or two on the rest of the league. With games against a reeling Spartans squad without Josh Langford and now Kyle Ahrens, they can only take so much from the injury bug until it bites them as a whole, and Maryland, who still has flaws themselves, the Hoosiers have a real chance to make a move in the conference come the start of February.

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Again, everything is fully dependent if the Hoosiers can play like they did on Saturday, but if so with 15 games left in the regular season and eight on the road, if Indiana can go 10-5 in that span, there could be a serious possibility that they will be sitting atop the Big Ten when it’s all said and done.