Ready or not, the college basketball regular season is coming. Indiana opens the year on Friday night.
Are the Hoosiers ready? We'll find out when they play their final exhibition game against Bellarmine University on Monday night at Assembly Hall.
It's Indiana's second exhibition game overall. The Hoosiers beat the University of Ottawa last Tuesday night. Ottawa spread the floor with shooters and challenged Indiana to defend the entire floor. Bellarmine will challenge the Hoosiers in different ways.
The Division II power boasts the type of size Indiana will see in Big Ten play, and they're also very physical. Bellarmine has regularly been called one of the best passing teams in all of college basketball, regardless of level.
"These are the kind of games our team needs right now," Crean said. "They're going to make it very hard on us and give us great preparation for what we will have to face in November and beyond. These kind of games are going to help us get better."
Bellarmine has already played two games, so the Hoosiers should see the best they have to offer. The Knights lost at Louisville 71-55 on November 1, and fell 81-60 at Cincinnati on Saturday. Bellarmine was within six points at halftime against Louisville.
"Bellarmine is similar to Ottawa. The only difference is they're bigger," said IU assistant Chuck Martin, who was responsible for scouting Bellarmine. "Against Louisville, they started 6-10, 6-9, 6-10, 6-5. Their point guard was 5-8, but the other four guys resemble a quality Division I program."
The Hoosiers are learning how to play bigger than their personnel allowed them to play a year ago, and Monday's game against Bellarmine should give fans an idea how that added size could benefit Indiana against some of the nation's taller teams.
Crean started Max Bielfeldt and Thomas Bryant together against Ottawa, but don't be surprised if he tries a different combination on Monday night.
"The first thing you notice is, defensively, it makes us a better team because you're able to shrink the court," Martin said. "Anytime you have Thomas and Max, or Juwan [Morgan], or even O.G. [Anunoby] on the court at the same time, the court immediately shrinks. That's something we didn't have last year, quite honestly."
Indiana's first exhibition game wasn't as close as many expected it to be, but you can bet the Hoosiers have seen other Division 1 schools go down in exhibition play. They won't be looking past Bellarmine.
"There's good players all over the country," Martin said. "Iowa lost the other night to a Division II program, St. John's lost to St. Thomas Aquinas by 30, Auburn was taken into overtime by a Division II program. We know there are quality players throughout the country, so we know how good Bellarmine is. That's a team that went to the Final Four last year, won 30 games."