Indiana Basketball: Indiana's 5 Toughest Games
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The Indiana Hoosiers should end up with one of their best seasons since the early '90s. I have them slated for 27-4 in the regular season, but obviously you can give or take a few.
Indiana returns all five starters from last year's team and many of the reserves. Mix that with a very talented group of four freshmen and Indiana is the deepest team in the country.
This is the main reason Indiana will fare so well, as they have an extremely deep and talented bench. The Hoosiers could literally run a new starting line-up off the bench that will arguably be better than most teams they face.
With the Hoosiers predicted to be so good they will have a huge bull's-eye on them. These are the five toughest games they will have all season.
Indiana at Iowa
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Indiana clearly has more talent than Iowa, but for some reason the Hoosiers always struggle in Iowa City. With this game being the first true road game for Indiana, I think they will struggle.
Iowa has as much depth as Indiana, as I expect them to go 10-11 deep. The talent level isn't as equal, but they're not far off. The Hawkeyes are going to be a surprising team this season, as I think they could make the tournament.
With Iowa hosting the No. 1 ranked team on New Years Eve, I think the atmosphere will be crazy in Carver Hawkeye Arena. Indiana always struggles there and coming into that hostility for the first time of the season could be tough.
Indiana at Michigan State
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This game could have Big 10 regular season championship implications. The Spartans are always tough to beat at the Breslin Center and by giving them even more ammo that at this point of the season—Indiana should still be No. 1—will make it only crazier.
Michigan State will be a tough matchup for the Hoosiers on the road with Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Gary Harris, Adrien Payne and Derrick Nix. Indiana has a deeper bench, but with the Spartans playing at home, I don't expect any of those five to get in foul trouble.
Indiana was blown out in East Lansing last season in the Big 10 opener and Indiana hasn't won at the Breslin Center in almost two decades. This game will be the toughest all season.
Indiana at Ohio State
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This may be Indiana's best shot at knocking off Ohio State in Columbus in a long time. The Buckeyes lost their two best scorers and only return three scoring options. The Hoosiers have a much deeper bench and on paper would win this game.
The problem is this game isn't played on paper.
Ohio State is a tough place to play and Indiana suffered their worst defeat at the Value City Arena last season. Aaron Craft may be the best point guard in the nation and I expect him to be tough to stop at home.
This game should be close all the way through, as I have both teams coming into this game with one loss and leading the Big 10. With so much at stake, expect this game to be a nail-biter.
Indiana at Michigan
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This game will definitely have the title for the regular season Big 10 championship on the line. It's the last game of the regular season for both teams and it could be a winner-take-all matchup. Both teams are top five caliber and should earn a top-two seed in the tourney.
This will be an old fashion slug fest if all the implications play out and come true. Big 10 championship, NCAA Tournament seeding and the best players in the Big 10 will all be involved and on the line.
Crisler is another tough place to play and with all that could be on the line will be tough for the Hoosiers to pull out a win. This will be a true test of what they can do against a caliber opponent heading into tournament play.
I expect this game to come down to the final possession and be the best minute-to-minute game of the season.
Butler vs. Indiana
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Many people may look at this game and think Indiana will win by 20-plus points. I say not so fast.
Butler is returning nearly everyone, has a good group of freshmen coming in and Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clark ready to go. Butler can match Indiana pound-for-pound in this game and I think the contest won't be decided until late.
Indiana may be more athletic and bigger, but Butler has some good shooters and penetrators. This game will come down to whoever can get the most stops and rebounding.
If Indiana wants to get in a shootout, Butler will match them. This game will come down to the halfcourt.
Indiana should pull this one out, but don't be shocked if Butler hangs around all game. It's a neutral court in Indianapolis and will be very physical.