Tom Crean wants his highly touted Hoosiers to get some early-season tests.
Now he'll find out quickly if they can earn passing marks -- even though they're not playing Kentucky this season.
The schedule, released Thursday, has Indiana facing BCS-conference foes Georgia, UCLA or Georgetown in the Legends Classic at Brooklyn, N.Y; North Carolina at home Nov. 27 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge; and a Dec. 15 contest in Indianapolis against two-time national runner-up Butler -- all before starting Big Ten play at Iowa on Dec. 31.
Indiana opens the season Nov. 12 at home against North Dakota State.
And the Hoosiers have one big advantage in Big Ten play: The schedule-makers gave one of the league favorites a chance to start fast.
After visiting Iowa and a trip to Penn State on Jan. 7, Indiana plays four of its next five league games at home including contests against Wisconsin on Jan. 15 and Michigan State on Jan. 27.
Crean likes everything about the schedule.
"The Legends Classic is an excellent early season tournament that will allow us to prepare for three distinct styles in Georgia, Georgetown or UCLA," he said in a statement. "I like the fact that we are able to have a game with an emerging in-state opponent like Ball State. Obviously our game with North Carolina will draw a lot of interest nationally and the Crossroads Classic has a big following."
Indiana hosts Ball State on Nov. 25.
The most notable absence, of course, is Kentucky. The two schools have repeatedly said they wanted to continue the longtime series, but the Hoosiers wanted the games to stay at campus sites while Kentucky officials wanted to play games at neutral sites.
When the sides couldn't reach an agreement, the series was stopped.
A home game against Central Connecticut State replaces Kentucky on Dec. 8, the second Saturday in December when the rivalry has traditionally been played.
The Hoosiers will face their other big rival, Purdue, twice. They'll visit West Lafayette on Jan. 30 and hosts the Boilermakers on Feb. 16.
Indiana also must contend with back-to-back road games Feb. 19 at Michigan State and Feb. 26 at Minnesota.
The Hoosiers don't play a true road game until Iowa, with 10 of their first 12 games in their home state. Indiana could play as many as 18 teams that made postseason tournaments last season, and will welcome the ESPN Gameday crew to Assembly Hall for a Feb. 2 game against Michigan.
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