All right, Indiana fans—let’s be realistic about things here. Before you anoint this year’s team as National Champions in the preseason, you should come to the realization that it’s just not going to happen. Sure, there will be plenty of wins and a high tournament seed, but that’s about the extent of it. Sweet 16 will be a good year for this group. Here are five reasons the Hoosiers won’t win the national title.
If the Wildcats had any of their NBA-playing starters back, IU wouldn’t even be sniffing a No. 1 position. But Kentucky has reloaded with more one-and-dones (have you seen Nerlens Noel?), and this talent alone will take the Cats back to the Promised Land for a second straight year.
2. Cupcake Non-Conference Schedule
All that’s missing from IU’s Division III preseason schedule is the St. Agnes School for the Blind. Looking at the schedule packed with the likes of the powerful Bryant, North Dakota, Sam Houston State, and Indiana Wesleyan, I see nothing that is going to prepare the Hoosiers for their Nov. 27 date with North Carolina, which could end the winning with a resounding thud. And beyond that, I don't see anything that will get IU ready for the Big Ten season.
3. Lack of Experience
The Movement (sounds like something you would flush) will offer moments of brilliance, but inconsistent play will doom them. Coaches will tell you it’s tough for young players to deliver a consistent game. One day they’re great, the next they're crap. If these freshmen can’t maintain their level of play, the team will be lucky to reach the Sweet 16.
4. No Surprises
There is a lot of ink out there about this particular freshman class, touting their cohesiveness and talent. So every team in the Big Ten will be studying them ... and gunning for them. Even when IU goes to play at places like Northwestern—where they've have a hard time winning in recent history—their opponents will be ready.
5. The Boilermakers
With Ron Patterson’s transfer out this summer, IU’s incoming freshman class isn’t any better than Purdue’s. The five freshmen in West Lafayette spell trouble for Indiana and the rest of the Big Ten for the next few years. I’ll detail my reasons in an upcoming blog post, but suffice it to say: Watch out for the Boilers.