When you play a schedule that so far ranks as the No. 352 most difficult in the country (out of 353 according to KenPom), it’s hard to know what you’re really looking at.
Indiana is putting up some gaudy numbers for sure.
The Hoosiers rank fifth in the country in field goal percentage, shooting a Big Ten-best 54.0%. IU also is fifth in the nation in free throws made (111), sixth in scoring offense (90.6) and free throw attempts (147), tenth in scoring margin (27.0) and eighteenth in rebound margin (+11.8). The Hoosiers also are second in the Big Ten in fewest turnovers per game (11.0).
But that schedule though. Is this fool’s gold?
Soon enough, we’re going to start getting some answers.
Indiana will host Florida State next week in connection with the Big Ten / ACC Challenge. That game will mark the first of 24 straight contests against high major opponents to close out the 2019-20 season, and when it is all said and done IU should easily have a top 50 strength of schedule.
But before we look ahead to next week, an intriguing challenge stands in the way on Monday night, and Indiana head coach Archie Miller believes this contest against Louisiana Tech will still matter in March.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Louisiana Tech (4-1) at Indiana (5-0)
- Tip time: 8:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
- Television: Big Ten Network
- Series: Indiana leads 2-0
- Point Spread: Indiana is around an 11 point favorite in Vegas; KenPom has No. 26 Indiana by 10 over No. 87 Louisiana Tech.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
“We’re really excited to play the game on Monday,” Miller said on a social media post on Sunday. “Got a great opponent. Louisiana Tech is a Conference USA not only contender but right now looks to be one of the teams to beat. They’re set up to have a successful season.
“We’ve worked very hard here recently to try and continue to climb the ladder and get better, and without question this is going to be our most difficult challenge to date, and it will be one that matters a lot come March.”
The Bulldogs have already gone on the road and played a power five opponent, falling short 82-72 at Creighton on Nov. 16.
“They have some guys obviously that have played in a lot of games that aren’t afraid with their first road game really being at Creighton they’ve already been in a very, very hard environment,” Miller added.
Louisiana Tech starts five upperclassmen and they are coming off a 20 win 2018-19 season. Interestingly, the Bulldogs opened last season with a road win over the team that ended the Hoosiers’ season — Wichita State.
Miller believes that having played in road environments like Creighton and Wichita State will provide the Bulldogs with the confidence they need to come to Bloomington and compete.
“They have great experience talent, depth, they can really score the ball, really shoot it,” Miller said. “I don’t think they’ll come in here Monday night expecting anything less than to compete and play to win. We’re going to have to be at our best. We know that.”
ALL ELEVEN SCHOLARSHIPS PLAYERS AVAILABLE?
Indiana has been playing a figurative game of whack-a-mole as it tries to return to a fully healthy roster.
As senior co-captain Devonte Green returned last week, down went sophomore point guard with strep throat.
Senior big man De’Ron Davis was not uniform against Princeton while Phinisee left that contest with an apparent injury.
Davis and Phinisee’s availability for Monday night’s game won’t be known until pregame warm-ups, but if they both dress it would mark the first time this season that all eleven scholarship players were available.
With the schedule starting to intensify, the timing for a healthy team could not be better.
- With a win against Louisiana Tech, the Hoosiers can get off to a 6-0 start. That would be their best record to start a season since opening the 2012-13 campaign 9-0.
- Both teams have faced North Alabama at home. IU beat the Lions by 26 while Louisiana Tech won by 21.
- Outside of Creighton, Louisiana Tech has played a similarly easy schedule that ranks No. 337 according to KenPom.
- According to KenPom, the Bulldogs are the No. 1 team in the country with an offense that only has the ball stolen on 4.3% of their possessions. They are No. 10 offensively with a 13.8% turnover percentage.
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