2016-2017 Big Ten preview: Top non-conference games

  • 08/22/2016 9:16 am in

With the start of college basketball practice season five weeks from Friday, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next couple of months. Today, we begin our look at the Big Ten with ten non-conference games, listed in chronological order, that you’ll want to mark on your calendars as must see. Note: Rankings are from Eamonn Brennan’s preseason top 25 on ESPN.com.

No. 11 Indiana vs. No. 4 Kansas, Nov. 11
Event: Armed Forces Classic
TV coverage: ESPN

We won’t be waiting long to get a premier matchup in college basketball this season. Two of the most storied programs in the country will square off on the first day of the season, which is on Veterans Day. The venue will be unique as the Hoosiers and Jayhawks will meet at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu. The individual battles in this game could be fascinating. Kansas has a veteran backcourt that could give Indiana plenty of problems plus Josh Jackson, who could be the nation’s best freshman. But the Jayhawks will have to contend with IU’s depth up front, which includes a Blue Ribbon preseason first team All-American in Thomas Bryant.

No. 10 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Arizona, Nov. 11
Event: Armed Forces Classic
TV coverage: ESPN

If it wasn’t enough to watch Indiana play Kansas on the opening night of the season, the Armed Forces Classic will also feature the Spartans and Wildcats doing battle. Both of these teams have plenty of young talent. Michigan State will be relying heavily on Miles Bridges and Josh Langford, a pair of freshmen McDonald’s All-Americans. Arizona, meanwhile, loaded up again in recruiting with Rawle Alkins and Lauri Markkanen, a native of Finland to go along with some strong returnees, including Allonzo Trier.

No. 2 Villanova at No. 14 Purdue, Nov. 14
Event: Gavitt Tipoff Games
TV coverage: TBA

The Boilermakers will have a chance to make a statement early in the season as the defending champs make a trip to West Lafayette. Villanova’s preseason ranking isn’t window dressing as Jay Wright has the roster to again contend for a national title. Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Phil Booth and Jalen Brunson are all back in the fold and five-star freshman big man Omari Spellman arrives. Purdue, meanwhile, could have one of the nation’s best frontcourts but still has questions in the backcourt. Mackey Arena will provide an amazing atmosphere, but Villanova can win anywhere.

No. 10 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Kentucky, Nov. 15
Event: Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden
TV coverage: ESPN

How’s this for a start to the season for Michigan State? The Spartans play Arizona in Hawaii and then Kentucky on three days rest in New York City. After a second round NCAA tournament exit to Indiana last season, John Calipari has again loaded up his roster with stud recruits. Tyler Ulis is gone, but the Wildcats welcome in five recruits ranked in the top 21 in the final RSCI top 100 rankings. The last time these two teams met in the Champions Classic, Michigan State prevailed 78-74.

No. 8 Wisconsin at No. 20 Creighton, Nov. 15
Event: Gavitt Tipoff Games
TV coverage: TBA

There was an adjustment period for the Badgers last season as they shifted from Bo Ryan to Greg Gard, but there will be no rebuilding project this season in Madison. Gard returns every notable piece from last season’s team that advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. Creighton put together a solid 20-15 season in 2015-16, but missed on the NCAA tournament. The Bluejays return most of their core and also welcome Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster. The Century Link Center provides one of the better home court advantages in the country, which could make an upset possible in Omaha.

No. 25 Syracuse at No. 8 Wisconsin, Nov. 29
Event: Big Ten-ACC Challenge
TV coverage: ESPN

This is a rematch of last season’s thriller at the Carrier Dome, which Wisconsin won, 66-58 in overtime. The Orange lost a ton from last year’s surprising Final Four team, but return Tyler Lydon and welcome top 35 freshman Tyus Battle. The Kohl Center is one of the nation’s toughest venues, but the Badgers surprisingly lost three non-conference games there last season. Don’t expect that to happen again in 2016-17.

No. 10 Michigan State at No. 1 Duke, Nov. 29
Event: Big Ten-ACC Challenge
TV coverage: ESPN

Michigan State could enter this matchup with plenty of confidence after games with Arizona and Kentucky. Or the Spartans could emerge from those two games with a long list of items to work on. Either way, going to Duke won’t be easy. In a normal year, Kentucky would have easily had the nation’s best recruiting class. But this wasn’t a normal year. Coach K went out and nabbed two of the nation’s top four players in Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum. The Blue Devils also return Grayson Allen, a Blue Ribbon preseason first team All-American. Cameron Indoor Stadium will be rocking for this game.

No. 14 Purdue at No. 13 Louisville, Nov. 30
Event: Big Ten-ACC Challenge
TV coverage: ESPN

It might not get the same billing as the other marquee Big Ten-ACC Challenge games, but this should be a fascinating matchup. Both programs typically win with defense and given the size Purdue can put on the floor, Louisville is going to be challenged in the paint. But will Purdue’s guards be able to handle the defensive pressure? The Boilermakers have three potential point guards in Spike Albrecht, P.J. Thompson and Carsen Edwards and one of them better be ready to meet full court pressure head on.

No. 6 North Carolina at No. 11 Indiana, Nov. 30
Event: Big Ten-ACC Challenge
TV coverage: ESPN

For the second time in five seasons, the Tar Heels and Hoosiers will meet in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge in Bloomington. This is also a rematch from last year’s NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen game in Philadelphia, which North Carolina win comfortably. Indiana was undefeated last season in Assembly Hall and this will be the first and only marquee non-conference home game next season. After a heart breaking loss in the national title game, the Tar Heels return the talent to beat anyone with Justin Jackson, Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, Theo Pinson and Joel Berry all back in Chapel Hill.

No. 11 Indiana vs. No. 13 Louisville, Dec. 31
Venue: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
TV coverage: TBA

After locking horns in the 2014 Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden, Indiana and Louisville agreed to a three-year series in the summer of 2015. This is the first of the three games and it’ll tip off in Indianapolis before shifting to Louisville in 2017 and Bloomington in 2018. Fans of both programs hope it will become an annual series. The Cardinals like to win with defensive pressure and Indiana can be turnover prone at times, which will present a challenge for a backcourt that graduated Yogi Ferrell. The Hoosiers could enjoy a frontcourt advantage with Bryant, Anunoby, Juwan Morgan and De’Ron Davis. Given how both fanbases travel to support their teams, Bankers Life Fieldhouse should be full and rocking for this one.

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  • IUBizmark

    Tickets for that UL game just went on sale last week. I could only find one link to get them though and that was through the UL athletics website. Not even the IU site had them listed. :-/

    At any rate, I bought two and will be attending to watch IU dismantle Lville.

  • sarge

    I love the big games on the schedule this year. MSU would be the only other school with as good or better. It will be interesting to see how them and Purdue look before the conference starts. I would love MSU’s schedule, playing Arizona, UK and Duke. I hope the Big Ten does well so that we don’t all get the shaft by the selection committee come March.

  • Hardwood83

    I like your attitude.

  • sarge

    Thanks brother! I like your attitude too!

  • Bill Graham

    Although I absolutely despise both teams that Michigan St v Duke game sounds awesome. Bridges guarding Allen, Harris on Jackson, Langford guarding ??

    —ultimately Duke will win (did I mention how much I despise them) MSU won’t have an answer for Tatum and its at Cameron.

    I also think our matchup with Kansas is intriguing

    Johnson 6’3 on Mason 6’0
    Blackmon 6’4 on Grahm 6’2
    O.G. 6’8 on Jackson 6’7 —big make or break moment for O.G.’s draftstock
    Davis 6’9 on Bragg 6’9 —-we have to start Davis—they are too big for us not to
    Bryant 6’10 on Lucas or Azubuike (prob Lucas) 6’10

    *** we have a huge size/scoring advantage in the backcourt…If we can just hang with their monstrous backcourt and not let bench guys like Siv kill us from 3pt…we could have a nail biter.

    ***bold prediction for this season; Purdue sucks and doesn’t even make the tournament due to lack of depth, the loss of Hammonds, and poor guard play. Meanwhile we win the big 10 again and get screwed on the seeding and get a 3 seed so we’re pitted against an under-performing UCLA team in a 3 vs 6 second round match. Also Izzo, secretly admits to being a rat in a giant leprechaun man suit and the NCAA bans him from coaching and he returns to the sewer he crawled out of.

  • BL4IU

    I’d put JM on Jackson and OG on Bragg. Let DD ease in a bit. Also, I think the freshman guard will really help PU. He’s so much better than what they’ve had recently. Shocked if he doesn’t start immediately.

  • Given the NCAA’s performance lately with violations, I expect that they’d carve out a special exception for Izzo should he indeed turn out to be a rat in a giant leprechaun man suit. Although come to think of it, are there really any rules against costumed rodents being coaches?

  • I am Baby Cakes

    Michigan State won’t have an answer for Allen, Tatum and Giles collectively. I am betting Bridges will spend most of his time on Tatum and Harris/Langford will be on Allen.

    As for Kansas.. we may have a scoring edge but they have a defensive edge and it isn’t even close. Kansas also has a coaching edge. Most likely Lucas will be starting considering how early it is. Self isn’t one to start young big men early in the season. He didn’t even start Cliff Alexander and I don’t think he started Joel Embiid early in the season.

  • I am Baby Cakes

    I also don’t understand wanting Purdue to suck. We should want them to be a Top 25 team. I think the Big Ten would be best if Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, Michigan State and Ohio State are the 5 best every year.

  • Bill Graham

    Ya I still see them having shooting guard issues – I wouldn’t really classify V.E. as a shooting guard…basically if they take anyone off of the floor in their starting 5 then they are down at that position…As for the O.G. vs Bragg matchup I like it!….you know how I feel about JM…I don’t think he is ready to guard a lottery pick just yet.

  • Bill Graham

    Well they’ve allowed Coach K to keep coaching and they discovered he was indeed a rodent back in 96… LOL

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    trying not to have any type of expectations for that first game, just really hope we can at the very least hang with them.

  • Zach

    These are some awesome matchups, even more exciting that we’re a key member in several of them (how it should be!). Will be looking at how quickly Sparty can get it together with a brutal non-conference and all the freshmen, but as we all know, it’ll make them ready for March. Wonder if we’ll be wearing some different jerseys from Adidas for the Kansas matchup. I like it when we do but we haven’t had the best of luck wearing new jerseys recently so maybe we should refrain.

  • SCHoosier

    I could have done without the Blackmon Graham match up..but….