IU Insider Blog: Another measuring stick game

Tonight's Indiana-Syracuse game at 7:15 p.m. ET in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge should give IU fans another good look at just how good this team is capable of being this season. Can IU pass that test win or lose? Here are my thoughts.

I'm generally not a big believer in moral victories.

Normally, I don't believe a lot of good things can come out of a loss but I'm approaching tonight's game between Indiana and Syracuse a little differently.

First of all, I'm not saying that just because IU is going on the road for its first true road test and facing the No. 4 team in the nation in front of more than 30,000 fans definitely means that the Hoosiers are going to lose.

Last year, IU went on the road and knocked off Michigan State when the Spartans were No. 4. Now, Indiana was No. 1 at the time so that's a little bit different.

But I fully expect Indiana to put together a good showing tonight at the Carrier Dome.

Still, I think Indiana can get a lot out of this experience even if the Hoosiers come home with a 6-2 record.

First of all, if IU's young freshmen players can compete in this kind of atmosphere then I think they'll be fine just about anywhere. I have been in that building before but for NCAA Tournament games. I've never witnessed a Syracuse home game. But I hear it's a crazy atmosphere.

When I look back at IU's only loss of the season, to Connecticut in the finals of the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden, the fact that the Hoosiers only lost by a point, 59-58, I thought was pretty impressive. That was a really good team. One that had a big win this week with a national television buzzer beater, too.

The key as I see it tonight is that Indiana needs to hang around. You can't allow Syracuse to have all the momentum and take you out of what you want to do. If IU learned anything in its Sweet Sixteen loss to the Orange in March, it was that in order to be successful against a team like Syracuse you have to run and get some points in transition before the Orange can set up the 2-3 zone. If you do that, I think you can hang around.

If this turns into a half court game, though, then I think it's advantage Syracuse.

When we went to New York City, I really thought we would learn a lot about Indiana basketball. And I think for the most part what we learned is that Indiana has a chance to be pretty good. When you can play a team like Connecticut to a one-point game when you got zero points from Noah Vonleh and just two from Troy Williams, I think that's a pretty impressive feat.

I think this trip to the state of New York is going to tell us a lot about this team, too. This is an elite level opponent. A team ranked in the top five in the nation. This is a national TV ESPN game that a lot of people are going to watching very closely. If IU can hold its own, win or lose, that will go a long way toward the Hoosiers' public perception.

I'll be in the Carrier Dome tonight bringing you all the coverage for AllHoosiers.com. Justin Albers and myself will also be hosting a live chat at 6:30 p.m. ET if you want to talk about what we expect to see.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch


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