Indiana, Kansas State and Teams with the Toughest Upcoming Schedules

Ari KramerSenior Analyst IIDecember 28, 2011

Indiana, Kansas State and Teams with the Toughest Upcoming Schedules

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    Indiana jumped to No. 13 in the AP Top 25, and Kansas State fell just a few votes shy of No. 25 San Diego State.

    Now the Hoosiers and Wildcats have an opportunity to improve their rankings by beating top competition. However, wins won't come easily against the likes of Ohio State, Missouri and other Top 25 squads.

    Indiana and Kansas State are just two teams with extremely challenging upcoming schedules. Here's a look at them and a few other teams with tough slates.

Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Welcome to the Big Ten, Nebraska!

    The Cornhuskers commenced their first Big Ten season with a 64-40 home loss to Wisconsin, and five of their next seven games are against AP Top 25 teams. 

    Nebraska will host Michigan State on New Year's Eve, visit Ohio State on Jan. 3 and Wisconsin on Jan. 15 before hosting Indiana and Ohio State on Jan. 18 and 21, respectively.

    A Jan. 11 home match with Penn State will be the only game the Cornhuskers are favored to win during the upcoming stretch—you certainly can't expect them to win at Illinois on Jan. 7.

    Predicted Record: 1-6

Providence Friars

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    Providence amassed an 11-2 non-conference record before losing at St. John's in its Big East opener.

    Now, the Friars are set to take on six AP Top 25 opponents in their next seven games. They'll play Syracuse twice, visit Georgetown and Pittsburgh and host Louisville and Marquette. 

    Providence could be favored in its Jan. 7 home match against Seton Hall, but even that game isn't a guarantee for a "W" because of Herb Pope. 

    Given how much Ed Cooley's squad struggled against a depleted St. John's roster, the upcoming stretch doesn't offer too much promise.

    Predicted Record: 0-7

Northwestern Wildcats

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    After tonight's visit to Ohio State, Northwestern has a very winnable home game against Penn State. The Wildcats could also beat Meyers Leonard and Illinois on Jan. 4, but that won't be easy.

    Then, they'll play three straight against AP Top 25 teams Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin. They'll host the Spartans, but the other two games are on the road.

    If Northwestern can emerge from this stretch with a 3-3 record, they will be 13-5 and in good position for an at-large bid.

    Predicted Record: 3-3

St. John's Red Storm

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    St. John's is 3-0 since Nurideen Lindsey decided to transfer, but the success won't persist. 

    The Red Storm will visit UConn on New Year's Eve, host Louisville, travel to Cincinnati and Marquette and host Georgetown over their next five games.

    Predicted Record: 0-5

Kansas State Wildcats

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    Kansas State, No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today Poll, is on the periphery of the AP Top 25, and the Wildcats will have an opportunity to prove themselves over the next two weeks.

    After hosting Howard on New Year's Eve, Frank Martin's team will play at Kansas and host Missouri and Baylor. 

    Howard won't cause the Wildcats any problems, but K-State will struggle at Phog Allen Fieldhouse and against the Tigers.

    The Wildcats used their length to fluster a very good Long Beach State team, and while Baylor is much bigger than the 49ers, Kansas State could compete with the lengthy Bears.

    Predicted Record: 2-2

Indiana Hoosiers

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    After tonight's tilt at Michigan State, Indiana will host Ohio State and Michigan. The Hoosiers will then play Penn State and Minnesota before traveling to Ohio State.

    Indiana jumped to No. 13 in the AP Top 25, but emerging from this six-game stretch with at least one win—preferably two—over a Top 25 team will prove the Hoosiers belong. 

    As Jeff Goodman tweeted: 

    Indiana fans are up in arms that I ranked IU lowest at No. 20 of all AP voters. Chill out and prove UK game wasn't a fluke by beating MSU.

    — Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) December 26, 2011

    Predicted Record: 3-3