2010-2011 schedule: Five toughest games

  • 09/13/2010 7:35 am in

DETROIT - APRIL 06:  Draymond Green #23 of the Michigan State Spartans reacts in the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2009 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game at Ford Field on April 6, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)Indiana released it’s 2010-2011 schedule late last month and here’s a look at five of the toughest games on the docket.

5. Wisconsin (Kohl Center, January 20, 9:00PM ESPN2): While the Badgers might not stack up quite as high talent wise to some of the other opponents on IU’s schedule, winning at the Kohl Center is no easy task. The Hoosiers have fallen by a combined 52 points the past two seasons in Madison and the Badgers return three starters, including 6-10 senior forward Jon Leuer (15.4 ppg), from a team that finished 24-9 before falling to Cornell in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

4. Kentucky (Rupp Arena, December 11, 5:15PM, ESPN): The Wildcats replaced five first round NBA Draft picks with the nation’s top recruiting class and once again should be ranked in the top 15. The eligibility of their top incoming player, Turkish center Enes Kanter, will play a significant role in determining just how good this year’s Kentucky team will be. Without Kanter, the Wildcats will be a much more perimeter oriented team with freshman guards Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb and junior wings DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller leading the way. If Kanter is eligible to play, Kentucky will once again have a likely top-five NBA Draft pick and a dominant post presence in the fold.

3. Illinois (Assembly Hall, March 5/6, TBA, TBA): When you combine one of the best student sections, a general disdain for the IU program and one of the better returning rosters in the conference, you get an environment in Champaign that will be both hostile and tough to conquer. The Hoosiers matched the Fighting Illini blow-for-blow a season ago on the road before falling 72-70 on a buzzer beater from Demetri McCamey. This year’s meeting won’t be any easier as McCamey, Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale all return for Bruce Weber as do super sophomores D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul.

2. Purdue (Mackey Arena, February 8, 7PM, ESPN): When E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson opted to return for their senior seasons, the Boilermakers solidified themselves as one of the nation’s best teams and a co-favorite to win the Big Ten. With Moore, Johnson and an assumed healthy Robbie Hummel, Matt Painter has three All-Big Ten caliber players at his disposal, but will need to replace the intangibles of the graduated Chris Kramer (defensive agitator) and Keaton Grant (capable of hitting the big shot). Lewis Jackson is the incumbent at point guard, but it likely won’t be long until freshman Terone Johnson, a North Central product, takes the reigns.

1. Michigan State (Breslin Center, January 30, 6PM, BTN): IU caught a break by once again getting a single play with the Spartans, but this time the meeting will be in East Lansing, a place where the Hoosiers have dropped their last 15 games. After flirting with the Cleveland Cavs job, Tom Izzo dismissed guard Chris Allen over the summer, but returns a stacked roster that includes Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, Korie Lucious, Draymond Green, Delvon Roe and a stellar incoming freshman class. That sounds like a recipe for another Final Four run.

Others games under consideration: New Mexico/Colorado (Las Vegas Classic, December 23, TBA, TBA); Ohio State (Value City Arena, February 26/27, TBA, TBA).

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