Analysis: Iowa men's basketball releases full 31-game schedule for 2021-22 season

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

The Iowa men’s basketball team must turn the page this upcoming season and learn what life in the Big Ten Conference is like without NBA Draft picks Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp for the first time since 2018.


The Hawkeyes have been assigned a demanding start and finish to the 20-game league schedule, as was released Wednesday on the Big Ten Network. They’ll open Big Ten play Dec. 3 at Purdue, which will almost certainly be a top-10 preseason team. Plus, Iowa's history in Mackey Arena is notoriously difficult to say the least — considering its losses of 104-68, 86-70 and 89-67 in the last three trips there.

If you're an optimistic Hawkeye fan, there could be a possibility of attending that Friday-night game in West Lafayette, Indiana, and swinging over to nearby Indianapolis for a very important Hawkeye football game (the Big Ten championship) the next evening.

Iowa's next three Big Ten contests are against Illinois, Maryland and Wisconsin.

"A brutal start for Fran McCaffery," BTN's Robbie Hummel said during the broadcast.

The Hawkeyes close the Big Ten season with a final-week stretch against two No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament a year ago: at Michigan on March 3 and at Illinois on March 6.


The Big Ten is never easy; Wednesday’s schedule reveal was a reminder of that.

Iowa sophomore Keegan Murray will be a focal point of the Hawkeyes in their 2021-22 schedule.

Some of the other highlights from Iowa's full 31-game schedule, unveiled Wednesday:

Jordan Bohannon’s sixth and final Iowa-Iowa State basketball game caps a crazy 11-day stretch. From Nov. 29 through Dec. 9, the Hawkeyes have three challenging road games (Virginia, Purdue and Iowa State) sandwiched around that Dec. 6 home date vs. Illinois. On Dec. 9, Cyclone students will be lined up plenty early at Hilton Coliseum to show their feelings about the Hawkeyes’ pot-stirring 24-year-old guard.

MORE: Iowa point guard Jordan Bohannon ready to unveil his best season yet

Iowa can look forward to a February stretch that includes 15 days between road games. A three-game home stand includes Nebraska on Feb. 13, Michigan on Feb. 17 and Michigan State on Feb. 22. Some tough opponents, but at least no flights for two weeks.

For those that wanted more Iowa-Illinois regular-season matchups last season, you got them now. Exactly three months between games, but there's two of them — Dec. 6 in Iowa City, March 6 in Champaign. Here’s guessing the Ayo (Dosunmu) vs. Luka rhetoric will continue even though both are now employed by an NBA franchise.

This was already known, but Iowa will not make road trips to Indiana, Michigan State or Northwestern. Those are home-only opponents for the Hawkeyes. Their three road-only foes are Ohio State, Rutgers and Wisconsin. Iowa plays Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State and Purdue twice.

If Iowa doesn't start the regular season 6-0, something went terribly wrong. The Hawkeyes' first six opponents are teams with ratings of 247 (Longwood), 203 (Kansas City), 330 (North Carolina Central), 354 (Alabama State), 274 (Western Michigan) and 245 (Portland State). Considering the 11-day stretch that follows, that might be the worst thing for McCaffery's relatively young team. The other two home nonconference dates aren't any more challenging — KenPom No. 336 Southeastern Louisiana and No. 290 Western Illinois.

The Big Ten Tournament will be held March 9-13 in Indianapolis.

Iowa's 2021-22 men's basketball schedule

Friday, Nov. 5 — vs. Slippery Rock (exhibition)

Tuesday, Nov. 9 — vs. Longwood

Friday, Nov. 12 — vs. Kansas City

Tuesday, Nov. 16 — vs. North Carolina Central

Thursday, Nov. 18 — vs. Alabama State

Monday, Nov. 22 — vs. Western Michigan

Friday, Nov. 26 — vs. Portland State

Monday, Nov. 29 — at Virginia (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)

Friday, Dec. 3 — at Purdue

Monday, Dec. 6 — vs. Illinois

Thursday, Dec. 9 — at Iowa State

Saturday., Dec. 18 — vs. Utah State in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Tuesday, Dec. 21 — vs. Southeastern Louisiana

Wednesday., Dec. 29 — vs. Western Illinois

Monday, Jan. 3 — vs. Maryland

Thursday, Jan. 6 — at Wisconsin

Thursday, Jan. 13 — vs. Indiana

Sunday, Jan. 16 — at Minnesota

Wednesday, Jan. 19 — at Rutgers

Saturday, Jan. 22 — vs. Penn State

Thursday, Jan. 27 — vs. Purdue

Monday, Jan. 31 — at Penn State

Thursday, Feb. 3 — at Ohio State

Sunday, Feb. 6 — vs. Minnesota

Thursday, Feb. 10 — at Maryland

Sunday, Feb. 13 — vs. Nebraska

Thursday, Feb. 17 — vs. Michigan

Tuesday, Feb. 22 — vs. Michigan State

Friday, Feb. 25 — at Nebraska

Monday, Feb. 28 — vs. Northwestern

Thursday, March 3 — at Michigan

Sunday, March 6 — at Illinois