I've watched a lot of college basketball this week -- specifically the Battle 4 Atlantis -- and I have learned one thing for sure:
By the time Indiana reaches Big Ten play on New Year's Eve, it will be a battle-tested team.
Why? Well, we already knew this year's non-conference schedule would be significantly better than last year's. SMU and Pittsburgh looked like tougher opponents in the summer than they do now, but here's what the Battle 4 Atlantis has shown us: Butler and Georgetown are significantly better than advertised.
Of IU's five tough non-conference opponents, SMU, Pittsburgh and Louisville figured to be the most difficult. Butler and Georgetown were almost afterthoughts because of their mediocre seasons last year.
But let me be the first to tell you: Georgetown and Butler are really, really good. And both teams will be significant challenges for the Hoosiers.
The two Big East foes met in the 3rd-place game in the Bahamas on Friday afternoon, with Butler prevailing 64-58. The Bulldogs are likely to be ranked next week after knocking off fifth-ranked North Carolina on Wednesday and a good Georgetown team on Friday.
Both teams have some veteran guys -- Butler more so than Georgetown -- but both also have talented freshmen that will be better by the time Indiana sees them.
Butler had 29 offensive rebounds against a much bigger North Carolina team, and the Bulldogs, as they always do, play extremely physical. TWENTY-NINE rebounds. Think about that for a second. Indiana allowed 22 offensive rebounds in a game this year. The Hoosiers will have their hands full at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in December.
Georgetown has a lot of size, including the 6-foot-11, 350-pound Joshua Smith. Plus, the Hoyas are led by D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, one of the best guards in the country.
My point is, the Hoosiers will see some really good teams before they get to Big Ten play. Win or lose, they will be better for having played this schedule.