“Indiana basketball is coming.”
A graphic, referencing the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, was posted on social media by Brian Walsh, the Hoosiers’ team and recruiting coordinator about a week ago.
— Brian Walsh (@B_Walsh2) September 1, 2021
And on Wednesday afternoon that tweet rang even truer as the 2021-22 men’s basketball schedule was officially announced on Big Ten Network.
While it’s hard to make judgements and assumptions about the program two months away from the season opening tip-off against Eastern Michigan on Nov. 9, it’s never too early to make some impressions about the schedule.
Here is the full schedule:
It’s finally here! 🗓
— Indiana Basketball (@IndianaMBB) September 8, 2021
Indiana’s nonconference schedule.
Indiana has a relatively easy schedule in the first few weeks of winter. Obviously, one game many fans have circled is the sole away nonconference game at Syracuse on Nov. 30 as a part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Aside from that game, the Notre Dame game — which will be the final installment of the Crossroads Classic — and a Nov. 17 home game against Big East foe St. John’s really are the only ones that stand out. Both teams have struggled in recent years.
Also good: playing Illinois and Michigan once, both at home.
While both teams lose key pieces from last season both will be excellent again. Michigan especially should be a top-10 team once again with Hunter Dickinson returning. Illinois will reload with talented young guards and of course the inevitable return of Kofi Cockburn.
The Hoosiers haven’t beaten Michigan since 2016 and Illinois since 2019.
This is easily the Hoosiers’ toughest four-game stretch of the season.
Feb. 12- At Michigan State
Feb. 15- Vs. Wisconsin
Feb. 19- At Ohio State
Feb. 24- Vs. Maryland
All four of these teams made the tournament last season and all look to repeat as potential bid contenders.
Maryland is an underlooked team heading into the season and Tom Izzo looks to bounce the Spartans back into regular form after adding some key transfers.
Also bad, ending the regular season in Mackey Arena against Purdue.
Purdue will hands-down be one of the best teams in the country and this could be a big opportunity for Indiana to pick up an HUGE resumé-improving win in early March. However, this might do more harm than good. It could be very difficult for the Hoosiers to bounce back in postseason play after a demoralizing loss in a rivalry game. It will be a big test and an opportunity for the Hoosiers but right now it doesn’t look to be the most appealing game.
Phew. When looking at the schedule your eyes will initially jump to the middle of January. A three-and-a-half-week run of games could tell the tale of whether or not the Hoosiers can contend for an NCAA Tournament bid, which would be their first since the 2015-16 season. Here are some notable games.
Home against: Ohio State, Purdue and Michigan
On the road against: Iowa and Maryland.
A nine-day slate from Jan. 20-29 includes three brutal opponents: Purdue, Michigan at home and Maryland on the road.
From Nov. 9 to March 5, there’s a lot to like about Indiana men’s basketball’s schedule. Getting off to a hot start in nonconference play is the best thing that can happen to Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers before a brutal Big Ten schedule, as it always is.