Don't let Indiana basketball's 8-3 record fool you. It's about as unimpressive of an 8-3 as you will find.
The Hoosiers look great at times, but their superb play comes against inferior competition. When Indiana has matched up with a legitimate opponent, the results are less than encouraging (1-3).
The Big Ten season is fast approaching. The Hoosiers' first conference game against Illinois on New Year's Eve will be here before we know it, and as of right now, all signs are showing that the Hoosiers are in for a rough ride.
Sure, the Hoosiers dominate the Oaklands of the country, but legitimate teams have posed a problem.
Chicago State. Stony Brook. North Florida. These names don't quite strike fear into your heart, and yet, they are teams Indiana has played in the nonconference portion of its season.
As the Hoosiers prepare to enter the toughest portion of their schedule, they have faced just four quality teams: Washington, Connecticut, Syracuse and Notre Dame—defeating only the Huskies.
Playing a hard nonconference schedule may make your record worse in the beginning, but it toughens your team for later. By taking it easy, Indiana is only setting itself up for a rude awakening in conference play.
The three losses to legitimate opponents is disturbing as well. Sure, Indiana can take care of weak mid-majors with ease, but it will not face any more come December 31.
The Hoosiers have been abysmal from beyond the arc.
Last season, the Hoosiers were phenomenal from long range. Making more than 40 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc, Indiana was the fourth-best three-point shooting team in America.
This year—not so much.
IU is fitting in with the winter temperatures as it is shooting a frigid 31.1 percent from the three-point line. Indiana's inability to make outside shots is changing how opposing teams defend the Hoosiers.
Notre Dame took a page out of Syracuse's playbook and defended with a zone, specifically a 2-3. After the Hoosiers shot 4-of-14 from three against the Orange's vaunted 2-3 zone, the Irish frequently used a similar strategy and achieved a similar result (7-of-20).
Noah Vonleh is no longer off the radar. Teams across the country know how good he is on the block. So, a zone defense is the perfect way to take him out of the Hoosiers' equation.
Zone defenses aren't common in the Big Ten, but the conference's coaches are good enough to realize the recipe to beating IU.
Pack it in. Don't let Vonleh get position down low. Make the Hoosiers take long jump shots, and even if a player is wide open, don't stress and let him shoot.
If Indiana wants to have any success against its Big Ten rivals, it must start knocking down more outside shots. Making attempts from long range would force the opposition to think twice about playing a zone and give Vonleh the ability to work in the post.
The Hoosiers have yet to lose a game at home this season.
Indiana is undefeated at home and 1-3 outside of Assembly Hall.
That pretty much sums up why Hoosier faithful should have its hand over the panic button.
This young Indiana team is still getting adjusted to playing on the road. This is not a recipe for success in college basketball, let alone the Big Ten. The crowds are some of the fiercest and loudest in the country.
To make the NCAA tournament, the Hoosiers don't have to be great away from home, but they have to be decent. The conference is so talented that winning in Assembly Hall is by no means a guarantee. To make up for possible home losses, Indiana has to pick up some road victories.
But by the way the Hoosiers have played on the road so far, the future does not look bright.