The Next Six: Can Indiana survive it?

The Hoosiers have a brutal 6-game stretch of games coming. Can they survive? Here's a look.

Indiana is 3-1 to open Big Ten play. Who had that? I'm not sure I did. With road games at Nebraska and Michigan State to open the conference schedule, and a home game against Ohio State after that, it seemed likely the Hoosiers would lose two of those three.

But the young, undersized Hoosiers have found ways to win close games, regardless how pretty or ugly they may be.

Now, Indiana (13-4, 3-1) faces a six-game stretch of games that may make or break its season. And the Hoosiers will have to play many, if not all, of those games without big man Hanner Mosquera-Perea. As of today, Indiana is a 9-seed in Joe Lunardi's ESPN Bracketology and would be heading West to Seattle. Yes, it's early, but still interesting.

Here's a look at the next 6 games, with the opponent's KenPom ranking in parentheses:

At Illinois (53)
Vs. Maryland (21)
At Ohio State (17)
At Purdue (80)
Vs. Rutgers (142)
At Wisconsin (6)

Without a doubt, this stretch will be brutal. After these six games, the schedule eases up considerably, but can IU survive this part of the schedule? The hardest part will come in the middle when the Hoosiers host Maryland on a Thursday then play at Ohio State on a Sunday. That's just set up for a blowout loss in Columbus. For the Hoosiers, it's important not to loss losses affect other games and begin to pile up.

I think the Hoosiers will go 3-3 during this stretch, with wins most likely at Illinois, at Purdue and vs. Rutgers. I could also see a home win over Maryland. But IU could very easily lose four or five of these games. Go 3-3, and you're sitting at 6-4 with five or six probable wins remaining on the schedule. That would be ideal.

So, what are your thoughts? Go to our FREE Hoops Board and contribute to the thread. Top Stories