Indiana Hoosiers Face a Big Test Against No. 11 Kentucky Wildcats

Chris GrinsteadCorrespondent IDecember 6, 2010

Head Coach Tom Crean huddles up with his Hoosiers squad during a timeout .
Head Coach Tom Crean huddles up with his Hoosiers squad during a timeout .Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Last season, Bloomington saw their beloved team enter Big Ten Conference play holding a 6-6 record, finishing the season with an overall record of 10-21, and a disappointing conference record of 4-14.

The 11-game losing streak they went on did not help them out at all either.

The Indiana Hoosiers (7-1) have had a much better start to this 2010-2011 NCAA Men's Basketball season thus far: They have amassed a record of 7-1, with their only loss coming to Boston College (6-2) by 12 points on the road.

All of their other games have been double-digit routs of smaller schools to get them warmed up for their inevitably tough upcoming conference schedule.

During the conference portion of their schedule, Head Coach Tom Crean's Hoosiers will face No. 2 Ohio State twice, No. 6 Michigan State once, No. 13 Minnesota twice, No. 18 Purdue twice and No. 21 Illinois twice. They also face Wisconsin, who I anticipate finding their way back into the Top 25 rankings within the next two weeks, twice this season.

Before they can even think about being competitive this year in the Big Ten, however, this young Hoosiers squad needs to fight through a big test in Lexington. If they can pull off an upset in Kentucky, they may be able to find themselves in the Top 25 rankings for the first time since the Kelvin Sampson era. 

If the Hoosiers can work their way into the Top 25, this would not only be a testament to Tom Crean's coaching abilities, but also his recruiting strategies, as he made Marquette into a consistent Top 25 team in his years there and now is working with a team completely formed by his recruits and walk-ons.

If the Hoosiers can hold their own throughout this tough season then they should be able to gain a bid to the NCAA tournament. IU fans and alumni shouldn't expect a title this year, but they should definitely expect a .500 season at the least.

This should be a good next step in the rebuilding of the rebuilding phase taking place since the Kelvin Sampson recruiting scandals that took place a few years back.

The main thing Crean needs to preach to these guys is hard work, teamwork and consistency. They need to play hard nosed defense and play the fundamentals.

If they can do this, they should be able to confidently step into the conference schedule and stand their ground against the rough waters ahead of them.