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