Earlier this season, the Indiana Hoosiers hosted little-known mid-major LIU Brooklyn. The Blackbirds were fresh off back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, but were given little chance to hang with Indiana.
LIU Brooklyn gave IU everything it could handle, only losing by one. The contest against the Blackbirds turned out to be a trap game for the Hoosiers. They didn't take their opponent seriously and it almost cost them.
Unfortunately, when examining IU's remaining schedule, there are more of these left. Let's take a look at the potential trap games facing the Hoosiers in 2013-14.
January 11, 2014 at Penn State
Yes, Penn State was terrible last year (10-21, 2-16). The Nittany Lions finished dead last in the conference, but this season will be different. So far, Penn State (6-3) is looking much better. It was competitive against Bucknell and Ole Miss, which were both NCAA tournament teams last season.
PSU's Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill are lighting up the scoreboard, each averaging more than 19 points per game. With two dynamic scorers to contend with, the Hoosiers cannot be relaxed when they visit Happy Valley.
This will also be a trap game for Indiana because its next contest is against Wisconsin. The Hoosiers have lost 12 straight to the Badgers, so that matchup could easily be on their minds.
All of these factors present Penn State with a golden opportunity to knock off Indiana.
January 30, 2014 at Nebraska
Remember when the rejuvenated Hoosiers went into Lincoln to battle the lowly Cornhuskers and lost in 2011-12? I certainly do, as it was a shocking defeat. It was Nebraska's first year in the Big Ten and the Cornhuskers weren't supposed to pose a threat.
Currently, the program is rebuilding under second-year head coach Tim Miles and should be a lot better than it was a year ago.
Knowing that they have defeated the Hoosiers before, the Cornhuskers won't fear them.
Finally, the trip to Lincoln is Indiana's longest, so travel and the fatigue that usually comes with it will be a factor.
February 18, 2014 vs. Iowa
This isn't the Iowa we've become accustomed to over the last couple of seasons. The Hawkeyes return their starting five and every player from last year's roster except one. This uber-experienced squad is 8-1 and ranked No. 23 in the AP Top 25.
Iowa is ready to make noise and should be a force in the Big Ten.
Roy Devyn Marble makes the Hawkeyes dangerous. He leads Iowa in scoring (16.8 PPG) and assists and is a terror on defense too (22 steals).
The Hoosiers may have defeated Iowa twice last year, but that was a completely different and much better Indiana team. Just because IU is used to beating Iowa doesn't mean it can have a laissez-faire attitude now.
Despite being on their home floor, the Hoosiers have to respect the Hawkeyes or they will get embarrassed.
Iowa didn't make the NCAA tournament last season, so you know getting to the Big Dance is a top priority. Beating the Hoosiers in Assembly Hall would definitely help its resume.
Indiana better be ready for the Hawkeyes when they come to town.