Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

IU Basketball: Early Schedule Provides Chance to Gain Experience, Build Chemistry

Indiana opens the 2019-20 season on Tuesday night in Bloomington against the Western Illinois Leathernecks.

Unlike some programs that are tipping off the season with marquee matchups, Western Illinois represents the first of seven straight games at home to open the season against teams ranked outside of the KenPom Top 100.

Here are IU’s first seven opponents, with their KenPom ranking (out of 353) in parenthesis.

  • Western Illinois (No. 295)
  • Portland State (No. 272)
  • North Alabama (No. 279)
  • Troy (No. 276)
  • Princeton (No. 182)
  • Louisiana Tech (No. 189)
  • South Dakota State (No. 209)

But that’s where the fun stops.

After those seven games, Indiana begins a 24 game gauntlet against high major opponents to conclude the season.

Based out of Macomb, Illinois, tonight’s opponent finished the 2018-19 season with a 10-21 record overall and a 4-12 mark in the Summit League.

Although the Leathernecks struggled last year, they should be improved in 2019-20.

Western Illinois has eight players returning from last year’s roster, including five players who started games.

One of the returning starters is junior guard Kobe Webster.  An Indianapolis native (Park Tudor), Webster was selected to the preseason All-Summit League first team. He led the Leathernecks in points, assists and minutes last season.

Anthony Jones, another Indianapolis product (Speedway H.S.) is also on the Western Illinois roster.

Richmond, Ind. native Billy Wright is in his sixth year of leading the Leathernecks. He was an assistant coach at Ben Davis and an assistant and head coach at Pike High School in Indianapolis before becoming an assistant at WIU and Ball State later in his career.


GAME DAY ESSENTIALS

Western Illinois (0-0) at Indiana (0-0)

  • Tip time:  7 p.m. EST
  • Location: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
  • Television:  BTN Plus (subscription required, free replay on BTN at 9 a.m. EST on Nov. 7)
  • Series:  Indiana leads 3-0 (IU won the last meeting 92-40 on 12/06/06)
  • Point Spread:  Indiana is a 21 point favorite in Vegas; KenPom has Indiana by 23.
  • Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)

I asked Indiana head coach Archie Miller about the way Indiana’s 2019-20 schedule lays out at the Big Ten media day in October.

(To see the complete schedule, including a printable version, go here)

On how the schedules starts out with mid/low-majors at home in November and then jumps to all high majors the rest of the way:

Sometimes they lay out differently just according to sometimes the dates you can get and the previously scheduled things that are coming up that you’ve gotta hold a lot of dates for.  So sometimes, you know, it may look a little different as a strategic. This year’s schedule just kind of laid out that way where you’re at home a little bit early in November and then you just start ripping away in December.

The last couple seasons as the league has expanded and as we’ve kind of gotten into some of the contracted events, it seems like our Decembers have always been really loaded with the high major games.  In this year in particular, I think starting with Florida State, finishing the end of the month with Arkansas, mixing in two Big Ten games, we’re really going to be on the on the hustle, so to speak, from December on.

Did last year have any impact on the way you did non conference scheduling this time around?

No, if you look at our non conference schedule that was a strength. We scheduled a non conference schedule last year that put us in a situation that if season ends on January 1, we’re a highly seeded team in the NCAA tournament with quality wins. Played on the road. We did a lot of things.

This year’s non conference, although it maybe mapped out a little different, I suspect will come into the same realm that if we do our part, that’s that’s a non conference schedule that not only puts you in a tournament but gets you a seed. That’s what we try to strive for. So there’s some games in there that maybe aren’t as a headliner—whether that be a Princeton which may be picked to win the Ivy.  That’s a hard, hard game. They had a win at Arizona State last year.

We scheduled a La Tech that has had 20 wins, I don’t know how many years in a row in the last five or six seasons, so we’re bringing in some teams I think from a numbers perspective that keep us in that ballpark of seeding. And then when you look at the Florida States, the Arkansas, the UConns on the neutral with Notre Dame, again, neutral. The 20 Big Ten games, our league being as good as it is, I think the schedule overall will line up right where we want it.

Do you like the Big Ten going to 20 games?

I think 20 games is you know, it’s a lot. You know, it really is. I think you look at the wear and tear on the teams that go through the league. It’s hard, you go through a lot, but with the competition level that we play against, it’s just two more quality games that are that are on your schedule and two more opportunities to play top whatever team is on that day.

To me the Big Ten is on the forefront of that. The league was forward thinking, the first league to go to 20. More conferences are now going to fill in. I won’t be surprised three or four years if every Power Five league isn’t sitting at 20.  We’re not going to be any different than anyone else. It gives our league another opportunity with Big Ten basketball out in the forefront, which is good thing.


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