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Friday, April 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

COLUMN: Let’s all promise not to overreact to Indiana men’s basketball exhibition games, OK?

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Indiana men’s basketball enters its preseason exhibition schedule against Division III Marian University at 3 p.m. Saturday in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. 

It may sound like an inevitable blowout, but don’t sleep on Marian.  

Last year, this venerated program took down Penn State University Greater Allegheny. It was the juggernaut that dropped 106 points on Simmons College of Kentucky. The absolute force of nature that matched Cardinal Stritch University blow-for-blow in a no-contest canceled due to COVID-19.  

OK, fine — frankly, there isn’t much question in the outcome of the Hoosiers versus the Knights. For many Indiana students, the more compelling conflict may be the moderate appeal of attending an exhibition basketball game versus the temptation to start pregaming for Halloween parties at noon.  

Still, I imagine several fans are starved enough for Hoosier basketball that even a cakewalk in late October sounds exciting.  

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for an in-depth scouting report on Marian basketball, I have terrible news: the 10,000-word analysis I painstakingly typed up about the Knights’ frontcourt rotation seems to have been lost to the catacombs of my laptop’s file explorer. It’s a tragedy, I know, but we’ll just have to persevere through the grief.  

Instead, I’d like to talk about expectations.  

This exhibition matchup is one of a few instances in which I think fans are totally justified in having high expectations. Indiana should steamroll Marian, and anything less than total domination is probably not a great sign. 

However, I’m not sure there is a certain number of points by which the Hoosiers could win to make me think they’re deserving of all their preseason hype. Aside from head coach Mike Woodson tearing off his suit late in the second half to reveal his 1979 Indiana uniform, entering the game and splashing one 3-point shot after another, very little could wow me.  

Consider this a request that you maintain the same level of skepticism. Even if Indiana wins by 80 points and all the freshmen look like generational talents, remember the context.  

Marian finished near the middle of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference last year. Per their website, the Knights feature a 5-foot-11 guard who planned to redshirt last season so he could undergo hip surgery, only to be forced back into action when too many of his teammates got injuries of their own.  

If the game goes as expected, it won’t just be a beatdown; it will be a contractually obligated beatdown. According to Inside the Hall, Indiana paid Marian $30,000 to visit Bloomington.  

If you’re unfamiliar with the bizarre world of college sports, let me assure you this happens all the time. Big schools constantly pay small schools absurd sums of money to come get embarrassed. The big school gets an easy win while the smaller school gets some cash to throw at facilities, jerseys, recruiting, you name it.  

On one hand, it seems to me like a sweet deal for both sides. After all, I like to win. And trust me, I would love to receive $30,000 every time life handed me a royal butt-kicking.  

Still, it must be demoralizing for a player knowing he is almost certainly going to face abject humiliation in a crowded hall. It’s like junior year finance exams all over again. 

Try to keep that in mind if you attend Saturday’s game. Save your choicest jeers and insults for when Indiana plays a team in its own division.  

Above all, don’t let a lopsided victory bloat your hopes for the real season. Just enjoy the game for the glorified scrimmage that it is. That isn’t too hard, right? 

Anyway, check in next week when I detail why redshirt freshman Shaan Burke’s zero points and zero assists in two minutes of action against Marian is a clear sign that Indiana is destined to win the National Championship.

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