The long-awaited Indiana basketball schedule is out.
It's not like there were a lot of surprises. Most of the non-conference slate had already been leaked out. The only two games left to be announced were Chicago State (we had been told the opener would be Nov. 8 but hadn't learned the opponent) and Samford on Nov. 15. That one has a special feel to it because Tom Crean's long time assistant coach Bennie Seltzer is now the head coach there. Essentially, Indiana threw Seltzer a bone to let him bring his team to Bloomington.
I've already heard a lot of grumbling about the schedule in terms of fans believing the Hoosiers aren't playing tough enough competition.
Here are my thoughts there. It's tough to get the elite teams to come to Bloomington and bottom line is that Indiana wants to play as close to 20 games every year at Assembly Hall as possible. And why not? Indiana reportedly had ticket revenue from home games last year of $8.7 million. That's a huge cash cow for the athletic department.
Not to mention the fact that Indiana is very difficult to beat at home. Just three home losses in the last two seasons total.
In order to get big time teams to come to Bloomington it will always be a home and home series. In this particular season, IU was having talks with two or three potential elite programs to begin a series but in every case, the schools insisted that Indiana play a road game the first year and a home game the second. And that would have taken away from IU's ability to get enough home games.
The way scheduling works in college basketball is that every school is allowed 29 games. In Indiana's case 18 of those are conference games and the Big Ten Tournament counts as one game in terms of scheduling purposes. That leaves 10 slots.
When you play in an exempt event like the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden this season for IU that only counts as one game. That's why programs like to play in those events though because you can play four games in the tournament and it only counts as one. That's the case this year for IU. Indiana plays LIU Brooklyn and Stony Brook at Assembly Hall in early November before being guaranteed two games at Madison Square Garden. But those four games total only count as one game on your schedule.
So that leaves you nine slots. One is annually taken up by the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. IU plays at Syracuse in that event this season. Another event is the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse where IU will face Notre Dame.
Now you're down to seven games. You have nine home games guaranteed through the Big Ten schedule, and with the two you get in the 2K Sports Classic you're now up to 11. But with only seven games left to play with if you really want to get your fill of games at Assembly Hall you have no choice but to schedule all home games. So by scheduling seven more there, IU was at 18 home games overall and when you add the two exhibition games you get to a number of 20.
Still not happy? Still wish IU would play a better caliber of opponent than some of the teams it plays in the non-conference slate? I get that but IU is basically handcuffed there, too. What schools are you thinking would be willing to come to Assembly Hall in a traditional contract where Indiana doesn't have to play at their place? If you have a home-and-home situation, that's fine except then you have to make sure you can manipulate the schedule in such a way that they year you're on the road you're not losing out with your ability to get enough home games.
The point I'm trying to make is that it's not as easy as just wishing you could play better non-conference opponents. A lot of times you simply play the hand that you're dealt if you truly want to hit your bottom line which is a minimum of 18 home games at Assembly Hall.
So now you can start making your New Year's Eve plans that will include a 3 p.m. IU basketball game at the other Assembly Hall in Champaign, or you can begin planning your IU Watch parties with a ton of games played again on national television.
The release of the IU basketball schedule to some is an important summer time event. It is now behind us.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch