Iowa Hawkeye basketball team faces early-December gauntlet

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

The Iowa men's basketball team will have an extremely challenging first week of December, with a pair of Big Ten Conference opponents followed by the annual rivalry matchup at Iowa State in a span of six days.

The Big Ten is holding its end-of-season tournament in New York City this winter, one week earlier than normal. That necessitated the scheduling of two league games in early December, with only one travel day in between.

For the Hawkeyes, that means a conference home opener Dec. 2 vs. Penn State and then a trip to Indiana for a Dec. 4 game in one of the league's most raucous arenas. The Hawkeyes then make a trip to Hilton Coliseum in Ames on Dec. 7.

Iowa basketball fans will get to cheer on the Hawkeyes at a Big Ten Conference home game Dec. 2 this year -- vs. Penn State. The league schedule was announced Wednesday, with some enticing home matchups for Iowa in January and February.

The Big Ten released the dates of all conference games Wednesday. The opponents had previously been announced. Tipoff times and TV information will be revealed at a later date.

Other highlights from Iowa's Big Ten schedule:

  • The Hawkeyes ring in the New Year with a pair of home games and a one-day break in between — Jan. 2 vs. Michigan and Jan. 4 vs. Ohio State.
  • Big Ten heavyweights Purdue and Wisconsin come to Iowa City for back-to-back games on Jan. 20 (vs. Boilermakers) and Jan. 23 (vs. Badgers). Purdue won the Big Ten regular-season title a year ago, while Wisconsin tied for second.
  • Iowa plays two other potential Big Ten title contenders once only, but both at home in February. Michigan State comes to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Feb. 6. Northwestern makes its visit in the final regular-season contest, on Feb. 25.

Iowa also released its full nonconference home schedule Wednesday, and it's an underwhelming slate. The Hawkeyes will host six low-level Division I opponents, including Chicago State (a Nov. 10 season opener), Alabama State (Nov. 12), Grambling State (Nov. 16), Southern (Dec. 10), Southern Utah (Dec. 19) and Northern Illinois (Dec. 29). 

Northern Illinois, at 205, was the highest-rated of those teams in last year's KenPom index.

The Hawkeyes will debut with home exhibition games against William Jewell (Oct. 27) and Belmont Abbey (Nov. 2).

The complete Big Ten schedule:

  • Dec. 2: vs. Penn State
  • Dec. 4.: at Indiana
  • Jan. 2: vs. Michigan
  • Jan. 4: vs. Ohio State
  • Jan. 7: at Maryland
  • Jan. 11: at Illinois
  • Jan. 17: at Rutgers
  • Jan. 20: vs. Purdue
  • Jan. 23: vs. Wisconsin
  • Jan. 27: at Nebraska
  • Jan. 30: vs. Minnesota
  • Feb. 3: at Penn State
  • Feb. 6: vs. Michigan State
  • Feb. 10: at Ohio State
  • Feb. 14: at Michigan
  • Feb. 17: vs. Indiana
  • Feb. 21: at Minnesota
  • Feb. 25: vs. Northwestern