You know the single best indication that IU basketball is back? I’m irritated.
When we were bad, I had no expectations. I understood the challenges ahead and why we faced those challenges. I knew that losing that way was better than winning the way we’d been trying to do it.
But now, we’re back to being a national power. Pre-Season #1. I have expectations.
And I’m irritated.
This schedule is garbage. It’s absolute trash. And I’m not talking about not playing UK, though that still bothers me no end. I’m talking about the rest of the steaming slag heap. Have you seen the non-conference schedule yet? If not, these are the highlights.
Tuesday 11/27 v. North Carolina
That’s it. That’s the highlight. We might get to play UCLA in Brooklyn. And they might have the number 1 freshman in the country. But we might not and they might not. Which leaves Georgetown as the runner up, followed by Butler and Georgia.
That’s one really good opponent. Two ok opponents. And one question mark.
The rest of our non conference schedule is the Hoosier Classic. Over. And over. And Over.
Which was fine in Crean’s first year. We didn’t beat those other teams anyway. We were terrible. But we’re the #1 team in the nation with a weaker schedule.
Let’s compare the two:
Northwestern State Bryant
IUPUI North Dakota State
Notre Dame Sam Houston State
Saint Joseph’s Georgia
Cornell Ball State
Wake Forest North Carolina
Gonzaga Coppin State
TCU Central Connecticut State
Northeastern Mount St. Mary’s
Lipscomb Florida Atlantic
For starters we have five teams on this year’s schedule with “State” at the end of their name and something other than an actual state at the beginning of their name. FIVE! Are you kidding me?! With the worst team we’ve ever had we only played one Non-State State. With our first pre-season #1 in over 30 years we’re playing FIVE!
Here’s a challenge. Look at that list and tell me what conference each opponent plays in without looking it up. At a quick glance I got 4-12. Maybe five. I’m not 100% sure on Ball State.
Just for kicks let’s compare this year’s schedule to the last time we started the season ranked in the Top 5, 1992-93
Murray State Bryant
Tulane North Dakota State
#9 Florida State Sam Houston State
#6 Seton Hall Georgia
#2 Kansas Georgretown/#2 UCLA
Notre Dame Ball State
Austin Peay #11 North Carolina
Western Michigan Coppin State
#21 Cincinnati Central Connecticut State
St. John’s Butler
Butler Mount St. Mary’s
Colorado Florida Atlantic
That’s five teams ranked in the Top 25 to start the season. Oh, and add another six games against Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa who were also Top 25 when the season started. Compare that to the (possibly) two that we’ll be playing and the FIVE Non-State State teams we’re playing this year.
This year’s schedule is not built to challenge, it’s built to coddle, which makes no sense with a team as veteran as this one. So, I’m irritated.
If you look back at the non-conference schedules for our teams that started the year in the Top 5 this is the number of Top 25 teams we played. With the non-top 25 teams in parenthesis.
1993 – 5 (Murray State, Tulane, Notre Dame, Austin Peay, Western Michigan, St. John’s, Butler, Colorado)
1992 – 3 (Butler, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Boston University, Central Michigan, St. John’s, Texas Tech, Indiana State, Cincinnati)
1987 -2 (Montana State, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, UNC-Wilmington, East Carolina, Morehead State, Princeton, Illinois State)
1985 – 2 (Ohio, Notre Dame, Iowa State, Western Kentucky, St. Jospeh (PA), Kansas State, Miami (Ohio), Florida)
1980 – 3 (Miami (OH), Xavier, Texas- El Paso, Toledo, Tennessee, Brown)
1977 – 3 (South Dakota, Toledo, DePaul, Utah State, Miami (OH), Georgia)
1976 – 3 (Florida State, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Columbia, Manhattan, St. Johns)
1975 – 3 (Tennessee Tech, Texas A-M, Toledo, Creighton, Nebraska, Florida, Hawaii)
Each of those teams played some dogs, but as a percentage of the whole, this year’s non-conference schedule contains 7 dogs (58%), 1 Top 25 team, maybe 2 if we play UCLA (8 or 16%, depending), and three games against teams you could find on a map if asked. (25%)
Let’s run those same numbers against the teams above, and there are some historical assumptions here, and a quick glance at margin of victory, just to be fair.
2013 – 58% dogs, 16% Top 25, 25% Mapteams
1993 – 38% dogs, 38% Top 25, 23% Mapteams
1992 – 33% dogs, 25% Top 25, 42% Mapteams
1987 – 50% dogs, 20% Top 25, 30% Mapteams
1985 – 30% dogs, 20% Top 25, 50% Mapteams
1980 – 33% dogs, 33% Top 25, 33% Mapteams
1977 – 33% dogs, 33% top 25, 33% Mapteams
1976 – 22% dogs, 33% Top 25, 44% Mapteams
1975 – 30% dogs, 30% Top 25, 40% Mapteams
The only team that comes close to that kind of a schedule is the 1987 team, and they played 18 conference games instead of 16 and the Big Ten didn’t have Penn State and Nebraska to add four near dog games to the schedule.
Look, I want a championship as much, if not more than most. But I also want a reason to get in my car in Chicago and drive to Bloomington to use my season tickets in November and December and with the exception of North Carolina, which is on a Tuesday and will necessitate me taking at least 1.5 days off of work to go to the game, I’m not sure I’ve got that reason.
This schedule is ridiculous and any attempt to spin it otherwise is a complete waste of everyone’s time.