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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  • kelin

    Big A-

    I don’t have a problem with the Non Conference schedule given I believe the make up of the team factored into who we played. With a young and 70% new team, I think the non conference schedule was ideal. WE didn’t know Ky would suck, GT (depending on when this game was assigned) was supposed to be a top 10 team before their studs left, SIU, and the Chi Invite wasn’t bad.

    Does this prepare us for Big Ten play..I think with the chemistry that is developing with this team now it has helped….You don’t want to go into Big Ten play batterd physically and mentally and without some continuity like I have seen IU teams before….So I say we are prepared.

    The idenity is almost there….
    The Chemistry is a 7 out of 10…
    We are almost ALL back healthy and non suspended…
    We have a good rotation…
    EJ, DJ, and Jamarcus are turning into the go to guys…..

    Not to ramble but I am good with what has been accomplished….

  • Brad

    I’m not sure if it really made that big of a difference, but from what I heard early in the year the Big Ten’s decision to change the number of conference games from 16 to 18 really hurt the flexibility of the schedule. I mean think about it, alot of these games were probably already scheduled so there wasn’t much they could do once the Big Ten took away two spots. Also, IU had no say in the GT matchup, which would have been a great game has Crittendon and Young came back for a second year. Then there is Kentucky. Normally this is a great matchup…just so happens they suck this year.

    Anyways, I agree the schedule is a little weak, but I guess my point is I don’t think it was a planned weak schedule, it just turned out that way. The one positive from this though has to be that we have had a chance to work in all the newcomers fairly easily. Only time will tell if the lack of schedule will hurt us.

  • kelin

    Big A-

    I don’t have a problem with the Non Conference schedule given I believe the make up of the team factored into who we played. With a young and 70% new team, I think the non conference schedule was ideal. WE didn’t know Ky would suck, GT (depending on when this game was assigned) was supposed to be a top 10 team before their studs left, SIU, and the Chi Invite wasn’t bad.

    Does this prepare us for Big Ten play..I think with the chemistry that is developing with this team now it has helped….You don’t want to go into Big Ten play batterd physically and mentally and without some continuity like I have seen IU teams before….So I say we are prepared.

    The idenity is almost there….
    The Chemistry is a 7 out of 10…
    We are almost ALL back healthy and non suspended…
    We have a good rotation…
    EJ, DJ, and Jamarcus are turning into the go to guys…..

    Not to ramble but I am good with what has been accomplished….

  • Brad

    I’m not sure if it really made that big of a difference, but from what I heard early in the year the Big Ten’s decision to change the number of conference games from 16 to 18 really hurt the flexibility of the schedule. I mean think about it, alot of these games were probably already scheduled so there wasn’t much they could do once the Big Ten took away two spots. Also, IU had no say in the GT matchup, which would have been a great game has Crittendon and Young came back for a second year. Then there is Kentucky. Normally this is a great matchup…just so happens they suck this year.

    Anyways, I agree the schedule is a little weak, but I guess my point is I don’t think it was a planned weak schedule, it just turned out that way. The one positive from this though has to be that we have had a chance to work in all the newcomers fairly easily. Only time will tell if the lack of schedule will hurt us.

  • James

    I also think that our schedule was a tad weak, but we played our tougher games on the road, which will help our RPI. I like that the team will have a bunch of confidence going into big ten play with all of these victories. We will be healthy, well rested and ready to go just like Kelin said.

  • James

    I also think that our schedule was a tad weak, but we played our tougher games on the road, which will help our RPI. I like that the team will have a bunch of confidence going into big ten play with all of these victories. We will be healthy, well rested and ready to go just like Kelin said.

  • Yeah, it’s too weak, especially given the weakness of Kentucky and Ga. Tech. Last year Sampson talked a lot about the need for easy games to gain confidence, but this year it feels like overkill.

  • Yeah, it’s too weak, especially given the weakness of Kentucky and Ga. Tech. Last year Sampson talked a lot about the need for easy games to gain confidence, but this year it feels like overkill.

  • Mike in Atlanta

    We win the B-10 & the B-10 tourney, none of this will matter. We will be a 1 or 2 seed. This schedule would hurt if we were a 500 team, but that’s a non issue. Don’t forget, you play against the game: not the opponent.

  • Mike in Atlanta

    We win the B-10 & the B-10 tourney, none of this will matter. We will be a 1 or 2 seed. This schedule would hurt if we were a 500 team, but that’s a non issue. Don’t forget, you play against the game: not the opponent.

  • Glen

    Not much difference from previous years. Just happens that a couple of these teams suck and our Big Ten/Acc matchup was weaker. The beginning of our B10 schedule is not that tough. We will pick up some closer than expected road victories in conference play which will shape our team the same as a more difficult pre conference schedule. It’s all part of evolution of this team. We will be blooming come the second half, ie. two mich st. matchups.

  • Glen

    Not much difference from previous years. Just happens that a couple of these teams suck and our Big Ten/Acc matchup was weaker. The beginning of our B10 schedule is not that tough. We will pick up some closer than expected road victories in conference play which will shape our team the same as a more difficult pre conference schedule. It’s all part of evolution of this team. We will be blooming come the second half, ie. two mich st. matchups.

  • I think its a good thing for our young team to build chemistry. We’ve gotten step one out of the way, playing on the same court at once. Now we’re ready to move on to tougher opponents. It was just lucky that we got chemistry early. What if we hadn’t looked so good early in the season? You’d have said that this schedule was excellent because it allowed the team to get together.

  • I think its a good thing for our young team to build chemistry. We’ve gotten step one out of the way, playing on the same court at once. Now we’re ready to move on to tougher opponents. It was just lucky that we got chemistry early. What if we hadn’t looked so good early in the season? You’d have said that this schedule was excellent because it allowed the team to get together.

  • Sherron Wilkerson

    No doubt,I completely agree. I love Kelvin but one thing that stood out to me about his days at OK were that his teams were consistently a 24 or 25 win team which only happens 2 ways, either your that bad ass or you are a decent team that schedules 8 cupcakes in pre-conference. Im pretty sure most of his teams at Oklahoma were of the latter.

  • Sherron Wilkerson

    No doubt,I completely agree. I love Kelvin but one thing that stood out to me about his days at OK were that his teams were consistently a 24 or 25 win team which only happens 2 ways, either your that bad ass or you are a decent team that schedules 8 cupcakes in pre-conference. Im pretty sure most of his teams at Oklahoma were of the latter.

  • Sherron Wilkerson

    With that said, I think that we are that bad ass this year.

  • Sherron Wilkerson

    With that said, I think that we are that bad ass this year.

  • Alan

    It depends on what you want. If you want to be entertained, then this is a weak schedule. For the purpose of entertaining fans, playing stronger teams is better, better for the fans (but only if you win).

    If you are not concerned about entertaining the fans, then it makes more sense to play a weaker schedule. This way you get your players ready for the conference.

    John Thompson (the father) was always criticized for his “cupcake” preconference schedule. But my or my, his teams certainly looked good come March.

  • Alan

    It depends on what you want. If you want to be entertained, then this is a weak schedule. For the purpose of entertaining fans, playing stronger teams is better, better for the fans (but only if you win).

    If you are not concerned about entertaining the fans, then it makes more sense to play a weaker schedule. This way you get your players ready for the conference.

    John Thompson (the father) was always criticized for his “cupcake” preconference schedule. But my or my, his teams certainly looked good come March.

  • kelin

    I also think wins against PU, sweep Illinois, split MSU would hold a lot of weight going into the big dance and seeding…(oh would it be nice to win at Illinois!) Not sure how many times we play Wisconsin but at least a split with them wouldn’t hurt.

  • kelin

    I also think wins against PU, sweep Illinois, split MSU would hold a lot of weight going into the big dance and seeding…(oh would it be nice to win at Illinois!) Not sure how many times we play Wisconsin but at least a split with them wouldn’t hurt.

  • piston honda

    i agree that the nonconference was/is weak, but i think that it served a purpose this year. since we play mostly newcomers and inexperienced kids, i think that it was more important to get them to learn to play together, play hard, and play how Sampson wants them to. it was probably easier to accomplish this playing mostly home games. could the same have been accomplished on the road? not sure. but i think that this team has and is continuing to come together, so they’ll be ready for the big 10, home or away.

  • piston honda

    i agree that the nonconference was/is weak, but i think that it served a purpose this year. since we play mostly newcomers and inexperienced kids, i think that it was more important to get them to learn to play together, play hard, and play how Sampson wants them to. it was probably easier to accomplish this playing mostly home games. could the same have been accomplished on the road? not sure. but i think that this team has and is continuing to come together, so they’ll be ready for the big 10, home or away.

  • Terry

    Four words about IU’s SOS: Indiana Classic. Hoosier Classic. Having attended these former RMK pad-the-schedule events, I see nothing to worry about with this year’s schedule.

    I recall the many complaints about our tough schedule a few years ago killing our chances in March. It’s very difficult to have it both ways. You shoot for balance, yet you can’t control the talent of the other team 2-3 years down the road.

    Perhaps the best part of our schedule is what the Big Ten provided…giving us two Big Ten road games with Iowa and Michigan to start the season. Much better than visiting Michigan State or Purdue the first week in January. Watch this team respond.

  • Terry

    Four words about IU’s SOS: Indiana Classic. Hoosier Classic. Having attended these former RMK pad-the-schedule events, I see nothing to worry about with this year’s schedule.

    I recall the many complaints about our tough schedule a few years ago killing our chances in March. It’s very difficult to have it both ways. You shoot for balance, yet you can’t control the talent of the other team 2-3 years down the road.

    Perhaps the best part of our schedule is what the Big Ten provided…giving us two Big Ten road games with Iowa and Michigan to start the season. Much better than visiting Michigan State or Purdue the first week in January. Watch this team respond.

  • David

    I have no problem with the schedule. With a young team, it allows the coach and players to work on certain things – offense, defense, rebounding, etc. It also allows some of our young freshman to get some playing time and the ability to work into the rotation.

    Only time will tell if the schedule prepared IU for the Big Ten season. But, right now, I have no reason to believe it didn’t prepare IU for the Big Ten.

  • David

    I have no problem with the schedule. With a young team, it allows the coach and players to work on certain things – offense, defense, rebounding, etc. It also allows some of our young freshman to get some playing time and the ability to work into the rotation.

    Only time will tell if the schedule prepared IU for the Big Ten season. But, right now, I have no reason to believe it didn’t prepare IU for the Big Ten.

  • Schultz

    I think IU deserves a pass for this year’s non-conference considering the non-league schedules they have played in the past couple years.

    I mean IU went at UConn, at Kentucky and at Duke in all true road games last season. Those are arguably three of the top five programs in college basketball.

    That being said, I would like to get Louisville back on the schedule, same with Notre Dame, Butler, Ball State and Indiana State. I think it is important that we play in-state teams every year.

  • Schultz

    I think IU deserves a pass for this year’s non-conference considering the non-league schedules they have played in the past couple years.

    I mean IU went at UConn, at Kentucky and at Duke in all true road games last season. Those are arguably three of the top five programs in college basketball.

    That being said, I would like to get Louisville back on the schedule, same with Notre Dame, Butler, Ball State and Indiana State. I think it is important that we play in-state teams every year.

  • kelin

    Schultz I agree I would like to get more instate schools…primarily Butler and ND. Butler needs to realize who they are in this state….”the step child”. Until you start hanging banners and get in a real confernece stop whining about the lack of coverage/love you get in the local media. Louisville had more fans this weekend at the wooden classic.

    We need an Indiana Classic….ND v Purdue and IU v Butler

  • kelin

    Schultz I agree I would like to get more instate schools…primarily Butler and ND. Butler needs to realize who they are in this state….”the step child”. Until you start hanging banners and get in a real confernece stop whining about the lack of coverage/love you get in the local media. Louisville had more fans this weekend at the wooden classic.

    We need an Indiana Classic….ND v Purdue and IU v Butler

  • Anonymous

    Our preseason is very weak and while it may give some experience and confidence the main thing it gives us is WINS.

    Pre-season games should start weak and progress to tougher and tougher opponents so that by the time we reach the Big Ten we are a seasoned team.

    It is sad but true that wins equal acceptance to the NCAA tournament or in the case of Football to Bowl Games.

    Schedules don’t necessarily reflect getting better just getting more wins. If the NCAA wants to do something positive for sports they should address the ” Patsy Problem.”

  • tberry

    Our preseason is very weak and while it may give some experience and confidence the main thing it gives us is WINS.

    Pre-season games should start weak and progress to tougher and tougher opponents so that by the time we reach the Big Ten we are a seasoned team.

    It is sad but true that wins equal acceptance to the NCAA tournament or in the case of Football to Bowl Games.

    Schedules don’t necessarily reflect getting better just getting more wins. If the NCAA wants to do something positive for sports they should address the ” Patsy Problem.”

  • coachv

    i can only agree with one thing you said. “i think not”.

  • coachv

    i can only agree with one thing you said. “i think not”.

  • Tsell

    Finish 1 or 2 in conference we get a good seed in the NCAAs. Why? Eric Gordon is the best freshman in the country. NCAA seeding is at least partly based on TV (especially who is a 1, 2, 3, or 4). Eric Gordon is a TV draw, especially what is looking to be a 20+/5/5 performance in conference. Personally, I wish that the B10 would go to 10 home games, 10 road games and ditch the B10 tourney, but that is only personal preference.

  • Tsell

    Finish 1 or 2 in conference we get a good seed in the NCAAs. Why? Eric Gordon is the best freshman in the country. NCAA seeding is at least partly based on TV (especially who is a 1, 2, 3, or 4). Eric Gordon is a TV draw, especially what is looking to be a 20+/5/5 performance in conference. Personally, I wish that the B10 would go to 10 home games, 10 road games and ditch the B10 tourney, but that is only personal preference.

  • Eric

    I agree the schedule turned out weak, but when it was put together we had no idea that some of the bigger names would suck. Also 2 of the cupcakes were out of our hands, the Longwood and UNC-Wilmington games were part of the Chicago Invite so we couldn’t control them at all. I also agree with whoever said that losing the 2 non-conference games because they increased the B10 schedule had to hurt scheduling.

    Long story short, sure the schedule is relatively easy, but I don’t fear it will hurt us. This team has too much talent to piss it away!

  • Eric

    I agree the schedule turned out weak, but when it was put together we had no idea that some of the bigger names would suck. Also 2 of the cupcakes were out of our hands, the Longwood and UNC-Wilmington games were part of the Chicago Invite so we couldn’t control them at all. I also agree with whoever said that losing the 2 non-conference games because they increased the B10 schedule had to hurt scheduling.

    Long story short, sure the schedule is relatively easy, but I don’t fear it will hurt us. This team has too much talent to piss it away!

  • BigT

    I agree with what others have said. Yes, it is pretty weak this year, however partly due to teams that are normally good being on the downside.

    I am most disappointed in the fact that we didn’t play ANY teams in the state. No, Indiana State and Ball State aren’t much better than most of our current games, but I think it is important that we keep these rival games going (not so much for IU, but I can guarantee that kids on those teams see it as their chance to gain some glory…)

  • BigT

    I agree with what others have said. Yes, it is pretty weak this year, however partly due to teams that are normally good being on the downside.

    I am most disappointed in the fact that we didn’t play ANY teams in the state. No, Indiana State and Ball State aren’t much better than most of our current games, but I think it is important that we keep these rival games going (not so much for IU, but I can guarantee that kids on those teams see it as their chance to gain some glory…)

  • Steve O

    Take a look at a team like Washington State, who right now is ranked like #6 in the polls. Their only “good” win came against Gonzaga. Other than that their non-conference schedule is filled with cupcakes. And like some people have stated before, on paper, before the season started, our schedule looked a little rougher. But it’s hard to determine who’s gonna do what until the season starts. Too bad we couldnt get Duke or UNC again in the acc/big ten challenge. I would like to see how we fare against tougher competition. But you can’t really blame the coaches or staff. The schedule is what it is.

  • Steve O

    Take a look at a team like Washington State, who right now is ranked like #6 in the polls. Their only “good” win came against Gonzaga. Other than that their non-conference schedule is filled with cupcakes. And like some people have stated before, on paper, before the season started, our schedule looked a little rougher. But it’s hard to determine who’s gonna do what until the season starts. Too bad we couldnt get Duke or UNC again in the acc/big ten challenge. I would like to see how we fare against tougher competition. But you can’t really blame the coaches or staff. The schedule is what it is.

  • I don’t fault IU for the schedule. They played Southern Illinois on the Road, Xavier the Invitational, Kentucky in the annual game, and Ga Tech in the Big Ten-ACC thing. Not to mention UConn in January.

    They can’t really plan on Kentucky being bad. I’m not sure how the ACC thing is determined, but in the recent past they’ve played Maryland and Duke, and UConn is perennially good.

    When Indiana was down a couple of years ago, you could have faulted Kentucky for playing a soft non-conference schedule. But it wasn’t Tubby’s fault that Mike Davis ran the program into the ground.

  • I don’t fault IU for the schedule. They played Southern Illinois on the Road, Xavier the Invitational, Kentucky in the annual game, and Ga Tech in the Big Ten-ACC thing. Not to mention UConn in January.

    They can’t really plan on Kentucky being bad. I’m not sure how the ACC thing is determined, but in the recent past they’ve played Maryland and Duke, and UConn is perennially good.

    When Indiana was down a couple of years ago, you could have faulted Kentucky for playing a soft non-conference schedule. But it wasn’t Tubby’s fault that Mike Davis ran the program into the ground.

  • Zac

    The point that the easy schedule has provided us with an opportunity to mesh the new guys with the veterans is a valid one. Allow me to step out of the box and provide a potential problem that has not been discussed yet (at least I think it hasn’t):

    Too many home games. Next year with EJ and DJ gone we are going to go through a little bit of a struggle at the beginning of the year. Only next year we will have to play at Kentucky, away for the ACC challenge (maybe..I dont know for sure how that will work) at connecticut, away for the maui invitational and at purdue (god I hate them). This being said I probably would have liked to have this year and next years schedules swapped. The schedule is what it is, though, just a measuring tool to get seeded in the tournament and then anything can happen.

  • Zac

    The point that the easy schedule has provided us with an opportunity to mesh the new guys with the veterans is a valid one. Allow me to step out of the box and provide a potential problem that has not been discussed yet (at least I think it hasn’t):

    Too many home games. Next year with EJ and DJ gone we are going to go through a little bit of a struggle at the beginning of the year. Only next year we will have to play at Kentucky, away for the ACC challenge (maybe..I dont know for sure how that will work) at connecticut, away for the maui invitational and at purdue (god I hate them). This being said I probably would have liked to have this year and next years schedules swapped. The schedule is what it is, though, just a measuring tool to get seeded in the tournament and then anything can happen.

  • Calbert Cheaney

    The schedule is easier this year, but all of those that are complaining about it will be the ones next year complaining about how our schedule is too tough.

    NEXT YEAR: Maui Invite-will probably face a top ten team and a decent mid-major. I gurantee we play UNC or DUKE away from home in the ACC/B10 challenge for simple fact of ratings. Kentucky and UCONN will be top 25 teams next year and we will be playing those games away. The Big Ten will be twice as hard next year with Illinois, Ohio St., and Wisconsin all back to being power houses. Next year I will be praying for cupcakes.

    BOTTOM LINE: We have four or fewer losses in big ten play, beat UCONN, and have a decent run in the b10 tourney, we are a 1-3 seed. Can you ask for anything better????

  • Calbert Cheaney

    The schedule is easier this year, but all of those that are complaining about it will be the ones next year complaining about how our schedule is too tough.

    NEXT YEAR: Maui Invite-will probably face a top ten team and a decent mid-major. I gurantee we play UNC or DUKE away from home in the ACC/B10 challenge for simple fact of ratings. Kentucky and UCONN will be top 25 teams next year and we will be playing those games away. The Big Ten will be twice as hard next year with Illinois, Ohio St., and Wisconsin all back to being power houses. Next year I will be praying for cupcakes.

    BOTTOM LINE: We have four or fewer losses in big ten play, beat UCONN, and have a decent run in the b10 tourney, we are a 1-3 seed. Can you ask for anything better????