Is the non-conference schedule too soft? Yes, it is

  • 12/17/2007 9:44 pm in

th_23656_commentary_122_1025lo.jpgWhen Indiana’s non-conference schedule was released, two games stood out to me as possibilities for the Hoosiers to get a test. The first was the winner of the Xavier/Kent State game in the Chicago Invitational Challenge and the other was at Southern Illinois. Now that I’ve watched the meat of the non-conference games play out, I declare the following: This is one of the worst non-conference schedules I can remember.

The wins against Georgia Tech and Kentucky look solid if you’re judging them on the names of the respective programs. However, Georgia Tech is inexperienced and Kentucky is in the midst of a transition period. Both will struggle to earn a NCAA bid and neither win will impress the NCAA Selection Committee come March.

Take a look at the current RPI rankings of some of IU’s “scheduled victories”: Chattanooga (147), Longwood (296), UNC Wilmington (133), Tennessee State (282), Western Carolina (292). Coppin State (191) and Chicago State (217) are still to come. I can understand scheduling a couple of these teams, but did we really need to play seven of them? Did we really get any better beating Western Carolina by 48? I think not.

Another troubling thing about the non-conference slate is the lack of true road games. The Hoosiers did pass their only test at Southern Illinois. However, I’m not particularly thrilled that the Hoosiers will begin conference play with only one road game under their belts. We all know the key to winning the Big Ten: Win your home games and steal a few on the road. If you don’t play any road games early and learn to win away from the friendly confines, how do you expect to win when it counts?

My fear is that with the lack of quality opponents and lack of true road games, the Hoosiers could run into some speed bumps when the Big Ten season arrives. The general consensus is that the league is down overall, but it’ll still be a tough haul to win consistently away from Assembly.

So I ask you, Inside the Hall faithful. Do you agree with me on the quality (or lack thereof) of the non-conference schedule? Will it prepare this team to make a run deep into March? Were there too many scheduled victories? If you don’t have a problem with the schedule, I’d love to hear why you like it. Your thoughts in the comments, por favor.

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  • Joel

    The schedule is too weak. We really don’t know how good this team is. Right now its a team with a lot of potential and nothing more. The national rankings reflect our weak schedlue. We won’t move up until we play some good teams and beat them. It would be nice to “get tested” a few times before the Big Ten season starts. The only quality win has been Southern Illinois. This schedule makes winning twenty plus games meaningless.

  • Joel

    The schedule is too weak. We really don’t know how good this team is. Right now its a team with a lot of potential and nothing more. The national rankings reflect our weak schedlue. We won’t move up until we play some good teams and beat them. It would be nice to “get tested” a few times before the Big Ten season starts. The only quality win has been Southern Illinois. This schedule makes winning twenty plus games meaningless.

  • Ben Bic

    Everyone seems to agree the schedule is too soft. So how does the informion below fit into the picture???

    RPI
    Rk

    10 Michigan State (10),
    26 Indiana (26),
    27 Minnesota (27),
    54 Illinois (54),
    64 Wisconsin (64),
    86 Ohio State (86),
    104 Purdue (104),
    204 Northwestern (204),
    205 Michigan (205),
    216 Penn State (216),
    249 Iowa (249),

    Ben

  • Ben Bic

    Everyone seems to agree the schedule is too soft. So how does the informion below fit into the picture???

    RPI
    Rk

    10 Michigan State (10),
    26 Indiana (26),
    27 Minnesota (27),
    54 Illinois (54),
    64 Wisconsin (64),
    86 Ohio State (86),
    104 Purdue (104),
    204 Northwestern (204),
    205 Michigan (205),
    216 Penn State (216),
    249 Iowa (249),

    Ben

  • Steve O

    the big ten is weak this year. we could be in trouble in the tourney if we see a pac-10 or big 12 team.

  • Steve O

    the big ten is weak this year. we could be in trouble in the tourney if we see a pac-10 or big 12 team.

  • David

    The Big Ten was weak last year too and yet somehow the Ohio State Buckeyes made it to the Championship game – beating quality teams on the way to the Championship game – Memphis, Tennessee, Xavier and Georgetown.

  • David

    The Big Ten was weak last year too and yet somehow the Ohio State Buckeyes made it to the Championship game – beating quality teams on the way to the Championship game – Memphis, Tennessee, Xavier and Georgetown.

  • Calbert Cheaney

    Any word yet if Ratliff made the grades?

  • Calbert Cheaney

    Any word yet if Ratliff made the grades?

  • SD Hoosier

    My opinion is that the schedule is hard enough. We had a wake up call against Xavier, and because of that, I think the team was able to respond against Georgia Tech and build up their confidence.

    I remember when people complained about how hard Coach Davis seemed to make his schedules, and how it wore on his team. I also remember how a lot of people wished that he’d schedule like Coach Knight, he of the cupcake non-conference schedule.

    In my opinion, what matters most during non-conference season is that the players are taught the system that the coach wants. If they’re able to apply that effectively, then it’ll help them during conference play.

    In addition, having good players who know how to play in that system also matters. We have a lot of young guys in key roles, so I think it’s been great for them to get acclimated without getting their butts handed to them. And besides, wins are wins, and they serve their purpose- to build confidence.

    To further explain how cupcake schedules don’t matter- let’s look at the NFL. The New England Patriots, who have been all but crowned Super Bowl Champions (I hope the Chargers or the Colts have something to say about that)- are the only team with a winning record in their division (save for the 7-7 Bills). I think the Colts have played a tougher schedule, given the quality of the AFC South, but nobody seems to care.

    So fans, stop whining about the quality of schedule. If the players really know how to play, and the coaches really know how to coach, then it doesn’t matter. If there’s anything to complain about, how about whether our young players can start growing up and not getting suspended?

  • SD Hoosier

    My opinion is that the schedule is hard enough. We had a wake up call against Xavier, and because of that, I think the team was able to respond against Georgia Tech and build up their confidence.

    I remember when people complained about how hard Coach Davis seemed to make his schedules, and how it wore on his team. I also remember how a lot of people wished that he’d schedule like Coach Knight, he of the cupcake non-conference schedule.

    In my opinion, what matters most during non-conference season is that the players are taught the system that the coach wants. If they’re able to apply that effectively, then it’ll help them during conference play.

    In addition, having good players who know how to play in that system also matters. We have a lot of young guys in key roles, so I think it’s been great for them to get acclimated without getting their butts handed to them. And besides, wins are wins, and they serve their purpose- to build confidence.

    To further explain how cupcake schedules don’t matter- let’s look at the NFL. The New England Patriots, who have been all but crowned Super Bowl Champions (I hope the Chargers or the Colts have something to say about that)- are the only team with a winning record in their division (save for the 7-7 Bills). I think the Colts have played a tougher schedule, given the quality of the AFC South, but nobody seems to care.

    So fans, stop whining about the quality of schedule. If the players really know how to play, and the coaches really know how to coach, then it doesn’t matter. If there’s anything to complain about, how about whether our young players can start growing up and not getting suspended?

  • Mark

    I agree 100%

  • Mark

    I agree 100%

  • Steve O

    My point is, we don’t know how we stack up against the top 10 unless we freakin play someone in the top 10. And yea, you might argue the polls mean nothing, but they are still an obvious indication of who’s good and who’s not. Not that we can change the schedule now, but I would have much rather seen us schedule a team like Duke or Memphis during non-conference play rather than Coppin State. Have you ever heard the phrase “battle tested”? Cause we certainly won’t be come March. Also, with the crappy non-conference schedule, if it comes down to seeding us a 2 or a 3, the tourney selection committee will almost absolutely give us the 3. Looking at RPI and SOS are a pretty big part of the process.

    But hey at least we’ve been blowing out most of these undermatched opponents… I guess you can’t complain about that. Now we have a chance to accumulate some wins, which also look good to the tourney selection committee… Either way, go IU!

  • Steve O

    My point is, we don’t know how we stack up against the top 10 unless we freakin play someone in the top 10. And yea, you might argue the polls mean nothing, but they are still an obvious indication of who’s good and who’s not. Not that we can change the schedule now, but I would have much rather seen us schedule a team like Duke or Memphis during non-conference play rather than Coppin State. Have you ever heard the phrase “battle tested”? Cause we certainly won’t be come March. Also, with the crappy non-conference schedule, if it comes down to seeding us a 2 or a 3, the tourney selection committee will almost absolutely give us the 3. Looking at RPI and SOS are a pretty big part of the process.

    But hey at least we’ve been blowing out most of these undermatched opponents… I guess you can’t complain about that. Now we have a chance to accumulate some wins, which also look good to the tourney selection committee… Either way, go IU!

  • Steve O

    And SD Hoosier, your NFL analogy is quite a stretch. I mean the Patriots played the Colts, Chargers, Cowboys, and Steelers who all lead their divisions and are playoff bound. I’d say the Colts and Cowboys are the #2-3 teams in the league…

    Also, there is no RPI or SOS ranking in the NFL, at least one that matters. And you may be right about the Colts schedule being tougher, but the Patriots BEAT the Colts and the Cowboys. SO what are you talking about? Your argument has no relation to Indiana basketball playing a crappy non-conference schedule… And I don’t even like the Patriots.

  • Steve O

    And SD Hoosier, your NFL analogy is quite a stretch. I mean the Patriots played the Colts, Chargers, Cowboys, and Steelers who all lead their divisions and are playoff bound. I’d say the Colts and Cowboys are the #2-3 teams in the league…

    Also, there is no RPI or SOS ranking in the NFL, at least one that matters. And you may be right about the Colts schedule being tougher, but the Patriots BEAT the Colts and the Cowboys. SO what are you talking about? Your argument has no relation to Indiana basketball playing a crappy non-conference schedule… And I don’t even like the Patriots.

  • Tom

    You schedule complainers are the people CKS refers to when he says “some people are not happy unless their unhappy”. Also goes to whiners in November about lack of defense, rebounding, offense etc. You could have Davis as a coach or be a UK fan. To many spoiled fans.

  • Tom

    You schedule complainers are the people CKS refers to when he says “some people are not happy unless their unhappy”. Also goes to whiners in November about lack of defense, rebounding, offense etc. You could have Davis as a coach or be a UK fan. To many spoiled fans.

  • Tom

    You schedule complainers are the people CKS refers to when he says “some people are not happy unless their unhappy”. Also goes to whiners in November about lack of defense, rebounding, offense etc. You could have Davis as a coach or be a UK fan. To many spoiled fans.

  • David

    Steve O, you assume that a team such as Memphis or Duke would want to schedule a pre-conference game against Indiana. In most cases this couldn’t just be a one and done situation, you would want a home/home series in back-to-back years. That in and of itself provides a scheduling conflict. And how long does a series like this last? It probably won’t be ongoing, it may not even last past the first two years.

    It’s easy just to throw out random hypotheses here and there and not even begin to think how it all gets accomplished. We all do it.

  • David

    Steve O, you assume that a team such as Memphis or Duke would want to schedule a pre-conference game against Indiana. In most cases this couldn’t just be a one and done situation, you would want a home/home series in back-to-back years. That in and of itself provides a scheduling conflict. And how long does a series like this last? It probably won’t be ongoing, it may not even last past the first two years.

    It’s easy just to throw out random hypotheses here and there and not even begin to think how it all gets accomplished. We all do it.

  • David

    Steve O, you assume that a team such as Memphis or Duke would want to schedule a pre-conference game against Indiana. In most cases this couldn’t just be a one and done situation, you would want a home/home series in back-to-back years. That in and of itself provides a scheduling conflict. And how long does a series like this last? It probably won’t be ongoing, it may not even last past the first two years.

    It’s easy just to throw out random hypotheses here and there and not even begin to think how it all gets accomplished. We all do it.

  • Jay

    I should know but I don’t, did ND drop us or was it the other way around?

  • Jay

    I should know but I don’t, did ND drop us or was it the other way around?

  • Jay

    I should know but I don’t, did ND drop us or was it the other way around?

  • MPmike

    I agree that IU has a weaker schedule this year, but, I heard Kelvin Sampson talk about how the schedule is made and he stated that the schedule is made in advance. UK is down and the Big Ten/ACC challenge is selected by last year’s conference finish, so IU can’t control whatever happens the following year. However, IU has played two quality opponents (Xavier, So ILL) away from the HAll and Chattanooga gave Tennesee all that they can handle–score was 70-76. We beat them by 20.

    If you can remember a few years back when IU didn’t make the tournament because of a really tough pre- Big Ten Conference schedule. I believe IU’s schedule was ranked in the top 5. IU started out at 2-7 during that stretch and could never catch up and did not have any quality wins. IU ended up 15-14 and NIT bound. So, having a tough schedule can only help when you win games just ask Davidson. Finally, last year Ohio State had a pretty weak pre-conference schedule with the exception of two games-Florida and UNC. Ohio State dominated the conference and ended up in the championship. IU fans can look forward to the the rest of the season with a team that will have better chemistry and loads of confidence.

  • MPmike

    I agree that IU has a weaker schedule this year, but, I heard Kelvin Sampson talk about how the schedule is made and he stated that the schedule is made in advance. UK is down and the Big Ten/ACC challenge is selected by last year’s conference finish, so IU can’t control whatever happens the following year. However, IU has played two quality opponents (Xavier, So ILL) away from the HAll and Chattanooga gave Tennesee all that they can handle–score was 70-76. We beat them by 20.

    If you can remember a few years back when IU didn’t make the tournament because of a really tough pre- Big Ten Conference schedule. I believe IU’s schedule was ranked in the top 5. IU started out at 2-7 during that stretch and could never catch up and did not have any quality wins. IU ended up 15-14 and NIT bound. So, having a tough schedule can only help when you win games just ask Davidson. Finally, last year Ohio State had a pretty weak pre-conference schedule with the exception of two games-Florida and UNC. Ohio State dominated the conference and ended up in the championship. IU fans can look forward to the the rest of the season with a team that will have better chemistry and loads of confidence.

  • MPmike

    I agree that IU has a weaker schedule this year, but, I heard Kelvin Sampson talk about how the schedule is made and he stated that the schedule is made in advance. UK is down and the Big Ten/ACC challenge is selected by last year’s conference finish, so IU can’t control whatever happens the following year. However, IU has played two quality opponents (Xavier, So ILL) away from the HAll and Chattanooga gave Tennesee all that they can handle–score was 70-76. We beat them by 20.

    If you can remember a few years back when IU didn’t make the tournament because of a really tough pre- Big Ten Conference schedule. I believe IU’s schedule was ranked in the top 5. IU started out at 2-7 during that stretch and could never catch up and did not have any quality wins. IU ended up 15-14 and NIT bound. So, having a tough schedule can only help when you win games just ask Davidson. Finally, last year Ohio State had a pretty weak pre-conference schedule with the exception of two games-Florida and UNC. Ohio State dominated the conference and ended up in the championship. IU fans can look forward to the the rest of the season with a team that will have better chemistry and loads of confidence.

  • John

    What ever the SOS is I would love to see Hoosier fans stop complaining and JUST INJOY THIS TEAM, as they grow!!!….Why is that so hard for so many people???

  • John

    What ever the SOS is I would love to see Hoosier fans stop complaining and JUST INJOY THIS TEAM, as they grow!!!….Why is that so hard for so many people???

  • John

    What ever the SOS is I would love to see Hoosier fans stop complaining and JUST INJOY THIS TEAM, as they grow!!!….Why is that so hard for so many people???

  • Alan

    Tom,

    Per your 3:52 pm comment: Well said.

  • Alan

    Tom,

    Per your 3:52 pm comment: Well said.

  • Alan

    Tom,

    Per your 3:52 pm comment: Well said.

  • ALH ’00

    Agreed that the schedule is week, but games are games, and I like the way they are won, even if the victory was “scheduled”.

    “Did we really get any better beating Western Carolina by 48? I think not.”

    Probably. This team is young, so to come out and dominate a lesser opponent shows that they are focused. Also, we got some key players on the bench some minutes. It may not be as big as winning a tough road game, but I definately think the team improved during that game.

    “If you don’t play any road games early and learn to win away from the friendly confines, how do you expect to win when it counts?”

    Focus. Leadership. We have DJ, and EJ can play like a senior. Ellis has been around. Crawford continues to get better. On the other hand, their “tough” neutral court game against Xavier didn’t turn out too well. So, we’ll see. It’s hard to look too negative on this team when the talent level is so high.

  • ALH ’00

    Agreed that the schedule is week, but games are games, and I like the way they are won, even if the victory was “scheduled”.

    “Did we really get any better beating Western Carolina by 48? I think not.”

    Probably. This team is young, so to come out and dominate a lesser opponent shows that they are focused. Also, we got some key players on the bench some minutes. It may not be as big as winning a tough road game, but I definately think the team improved during that game.

    “If you don’t play any road games early and learn to win away from the friendly confines, how do you expect to win when it counts?”

    Focus. Leadership. We have DJ, and EJ can play like a senior. Ellis has been around. Crawford continues to get better. On the other hand, their “tough” neutral court game against Xavier didn’t turn out too well. So, we’ll see. It’s hard to look too negative on this team when the talent level is so high.

  • Brett

    Did you look at the schedule before the season started and lament the fact that it was too soft? If you did, you didn’t write about it then. I think you, as most people, saw it as a pretty well rounded non conference line-up. A few decent tests with some powder puffs sprinkled in.
    My point is that it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re going to get when you schedule these things in advance. Sure, we could have scheduled a couple more away games, but with all the neutral court games we’ve played, I’m not all that worried about it.

  • Brett

    Did you look at the schedule before the season started and lament the fact that it was too soft? If you did, you didn’t write about it then. I think you, as most people, saw it as a pretty well rounded non conference line-up. A few decent tests with some powder puffs sprinkled in.
    My point is that it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re going to get when you schedule these things in advance. Sure, we could have scheduled a couple more away games, but with all the neutral court games we’ve played, I’m not all that worried about it.

  • Brett

    Did you look at the schedule before the season started and lament the fact that it was too soft? If you did, you didn’t write about it then. I think you, as most people, saw it as a pretty well rounded non conference line-up. A few decent tests with some powder puffs sprinkled in.
    My point is that it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re going to get when you schedule these things in advance. Sure, we could have scheduled a couple more away games, but with all the neutral court games we’ve played, I’m not all that worried about it.

  • Matt

    Just watching Pitt/Duke at the Garden tonight (12/20) makes me agree with you. What a physical battle – two big-time programs battling it out to overtime. A close loss to a ranked program on a neutral floor at this point doesn’t hurt you that bad – but a win would be huge on Selection Sunday. I agree with some of the other posters that even a Louisville (not looking so good now) or a Butler would have been a good test this preseason.

  • Matt

    Just watching Pitt/Duke at the Garden tonight (12/20) makes me agree with you. What a physical battle – two big-time programs battling it out to overtime. A close loss to a ranked program on a neutral floor at this point doesn’t hurt you that bad – but a win would be huge on Selection Sunday. I agree with some of the other posters that even a Louisville (not looking so good now) or a Butler would have been a good test this preseason.

  • Matt

    Just watching Pitt/Duke at the Garden tonight (12/20) makes me agree with you. What a physical battle – two big-time programs battling it out to overtime. A close loss to a ranked program on a neutral floor at this point doesn’t hurt you that bad – but a win would be huge on Selection Sunday. I agree with some of the other posters that even a Louisville (not looking so good now) or a Butler would have been a good test this preseason.

  • Scott

    Cup Cake City Baby! Big Ten away games will be an entirely new experience for the new comers.

  • Scott

    Cup Cake City Baby! Big Ten away games will be an entirely new experience for the new comers.

  • Scott

    Cup Cake City Baby! Big Ten away games will be an entirely new experience for the new comers.