When the Big Ten basketball schedules were released during the summer, Indiana fans looked at the beginning of IU’s schedule and grimaced.
Considering those were three of the top four or five projected teams in the 2015 conference (while IU was picked ninth) it seemed as if the Hoosiers could potentially open conference play with an 0-3 record.
That, in and of itself, is a reason to be feeling good if you’re an Indiana basketball fan following Wednesday’s 70-65 conference-opening victory at Nebraska.
The only number that matters to Indiana right now is one. As in 1-0 in Big Ten play.
Had IU lost to Nebraska, the Michigan State game would have become that much more difficult. As it is, IU will be walking into the Breslin Center where Michigan State lost its opener Tuesday against Maryland in double overtime. Had it been two 0-1 teams facing each other, the pressure would have simply been turned up another notch.
But no, IU is 1-0 in Big Ten play.
Wednesday’s win was big for several reasons. Here are a couple that jump out at me as I’m penning this column Wednesday night.
1. Nebraska is a tough place to win:The Cornhuskers had won their previous eight consecutive Big Ten home games. So going into that venue and coming out with a victory in the opener was a monumental feat. There will be several Big Ten teams this season that will not be able to boast the same thing.
2. Indiana won its first true road game:The naysayers were lined up to say ‘I told you so’ following the IU-Nebraska game. The bottom line: Had IU lost they would have said that it just goes to show why you have to play true road games in the non-conference schedule. Because IU had not played any, the Hoosiers were destined to fail when they went on the road in the Big Ten. But the win over the Cornhuskers helped to change public perception immediately. IU is now 1-0 in true road games this season and somewhere down the line a victory at Nebraska will look good on IU’s resume.
3. It was a huge confidence boost for a young team:This young Hoosier squad had very likely been hearing all week about how the intensity levels gets turned up a notch when Big Ten play begins. The crowd Wednesday in Lincoln, Neb. was raucous. For the Hoosiers to go in there and come away with a victory will help many of those young players grow up in a hurry. If any of them were affected by the crowd noise, you certainly wouldn’t have suspected it after the opener.
Now it’s only one game. And the next two – against Michigan State and Ohio State – will be no easy tasks, however, there’s just something about getting out of the gate 1-0 that will allow everyone involved with this program to have a little happier New Year tonight.
Yes, it’s only one game out of 18 in conference play. But it’s one victory and one very important victory at that.IU opens B1G with 70-65 win
Analysis: 11-7 in Big Ten? Good possibility