Rayvonte Rice hurt ... Significance for IU?

Illinois is without star guard Rayvonte Rice for a few weeks after he broke his hand. What does it mean for the Hoosiers?

Illinois got some bad news on Tuesday when it was announced that star guard Rayvonte Rice will miss 3-6 weeks with a broken left hand.

That's positive news for Indiana, though, as the Hoosiers will play the Fighting Illini in Champaign while Rice is out (Jan. 18). With Rice out, that road game becomes much more winnable for the Hoosiers (11-4, 1-1 Big Ten).

Think about this: If Indiana can beat Ohio State at home on Saturday, it has a realistic chance to open Big Ten play at 4-1. After Ohio State, Indiana hosts Penn State and then travels to Illinois. All of those games are very winnable.

Keep in mind, Indiana's schedule softens as the season goes on. The Hoosiers are likely to be favored in each of their last six conference games (Vs. Minnesota, Vs. Purdue, at Rutgers, at Northwestern, Vs. Iowa, Vs. Michigan State.

Now, I'm not suggesting that Rice's injury gives the Hoosiers that win automatically. That would be silly. It's still a conference road game against a rival. But it does give Indiana a better chance to rattle off some wins early in conference play, something that didn't look all that likely before the season began.

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