The time has come to predict how we think Indiana will fare in the Big Ten portion of the schedule.
After analyzing the schedule, I think the Hoosiers will finish somewhere between 8-10 and 10-8 for the 18-game conference schedule.
Some will say that is giving IU too much of the benefit of the doubt. Others will say that Indiana will have a better showing that that in Big Ten play.
My question is what do you say? I'll post this IU Insider Blog on the message board and give you a chance to weigh in as to how you think Indiana will fare in the Big Ten portion of the schedule.
Here is where I came out after a quick analysis. I have the Hoosiers go an even 9-9 in Big Ten play with a 5-4 record at Assembly Hall and a 4-5 mark on the road in conference play.
Here is how I arrived at those numbers.
Let's begin by looking at the first four games. I think IU will have a difficult time out of the gate at Illinois and may come home on the short end of an 0-1 record. Next will be Michigan State at Assembly Hall and I just think the Spartans have too much firepower for the Hoosiers there, too. I think Indiana will win at Penn State to pick up its first Big Ten victory but then come home and lose to Wisconsin to fall to 0-2 at home in Big Ten play.
So that would be a 1-3 record after four games.
Next up would be a home win against Northwestern, followed by a road loss in East Lansing to Michigan State. In a quirk in the schedule, the Hoosiers and Spartans will be done after six Big Ten games and won't face each other again until potentially in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis in March. After Michigan State, I think IU comes home and beats Illinois and then goes on the road and beats Nebraska.
This would give the Hoosiers an even 4-4 record after eight games.
I have IU splitting its two games with Michigan so the next game on the schedule would be the home game against the Wolverines and I have IU pulling that one out. Next would be a road date at Minnesota and I would think the Golden Gophers would be too tough in Williams Arena. IU would then home to beat Penn State and go on the road and knock off Purdue in the only meeting between the two rivals this year.
That would give IU a 7-5 record in Big Ten play with six to go.
Next up would be Iowa at home and this is one that I look at as being one of the determining factors as to whether IU goes 9-9 or 10-8. I have Indiana losing to the Hawkeyes at Assembly Hall and then going on the road and beating Northwestern. Next up would be a road loss at Wisconsin and a home loss against Ohio State.
That would put the Hoosiers at 8-8 with two to play.
IU would improve to 9-8 with a Senior Night victory over Nebraska but then finish the conference regular season with a loss at Michigan to finish up 9-9.
This would give the Hoosiers a 19-12 record heading into the Big Ten Tournament and likely have the Hoosiers right on the bubble for an NCAA Tournament berth.
If this does indeed turn out to be the case, we'll take a longer look at what IU has to do in the Big Ten Tournament when we reach that point in March.
So those are my picks. What are yours?
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch