Analyzing the newly released Big Ten schedules for Iowa men's and women's basketball
The Big Ten Conference on Thursday added more clarity to the upcoming basketball season’s schedules, dropping the lineup of opponents for the men and women. With a 14-team league and 20-game schedules on the men’s side and 18 for the women, there is natural unbalance. Thus, not everyone can play everyone twice.
The home/away breakdown can often tilt who wins a regular-season championship and a higher conference-tournament seed. For instance, the Iowa women probably benefited from only playing Maryland once last season (and not having to travel to College Park). They tied for the regular-season title with Ohio State (which it also only played once), edging Michigan and Maryland by a half-game.
From an Iowa perspective, here’s what we learned from the Big Ten on Tuesday …
Hawkeye men's draw
Home only (3): Illinois, Maryland, Michigan
Road only (3): Minnesota, Penn State, Purdue
Two-plays (7): Indiana, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Rutgers, Wisconsin
Analysis: Fran McCaffery’s Hawkeyes will avoid trips to Ann Arbor, Champaign and College Park. Those are three of the Big Ten’s most difficult venues. Iowa notoriously has struggled at Illinois. That draw might produce a slight benefit in the win-loss column, but obviously it reduces the number of (likely) Quad 1 games on the Hawkeyes schedule. That could become frustrating in early March.
Iowa’s home schedule should be a challenge, considering two of the league’s weaker programs at the moment — Penn State and Minnesota — are not coming to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Season ticketholders will be rewarded with an ACC opponent (to be determined); Iowa State; Illinois; Indiana; Michigan; Michigan State; Ohio State and Wisconsin among others.
Iowa is coming off a 26-10 season; only one other team in program history (1986-87) won more games. As outlined earlier this week, the Hawkeyes’ non-conference schedule is shaping up to be a beast, with six power-conference opponents — including national power Duke and perhaps TCU (an expected top-10 or top-15 team) on neutral sites. Anticipation will be high, especially with Kris Murray's decision to return to school.
The 20-game Big Ten gauntlet is just that, a gauntlet. Iowa’s 2022-23 schedule will be tough, but at least we know more of the landscape ahead.
Hawkeye women's draw
Home only (4): Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Rutgers
Road only (4): Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State
Two-plays (5): Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Penn State, Wisconsin
Analysis: A mixed bag here for Lisa Bluder's Hawkeyes, who will likely open in the national top 10. It was inevitable that the defending Big Ten regular-season and tournament champions would return to College Park, but they do get the challenge of a two-play against Brenda Frese’s Terrapins. Those matchups will be highly anticipated for women's basketball viewers.
It's maybe a good thing that the Hawkeyes don’t have to travel to Evanston this year; the Wildcats are always a tricky foe.
Not getting Michigan or Ohio State at home is a bummer for the Carver-Hawkeye faithful.
In an interview with the Register in May, Clark expressed a lot of confidence that Iowa could be a much better team this season — even after achieving a No. 2 NCAA Tournament seed. The path to show that just became a little clearer.