Iowa basketball's non-conference schedule is finalized. Here's a look at the 11 opponents, dates
For months, the Iowa men’s basketball non-conference schedule has slowly trickled out. Earlier this week, ESPN (finally) announced the worst-kept-secret on the docket, that the Hawkeyes would face Duke in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in early December.
And on Friday, the University of Iowa put out the full list — with dates — of the 11 non-conference games facing Fran McCaffery’s 2022-23 squad, which should be loaded with experience and potential.
Here’s a quick recap of the 11 games — seven of which will be staged in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, two in Florida, one in New Jersey and one at 4 Pennsylvania Plaza in New York City.
Monday, Nov. 7 — vs. Bethune-Cookman: Coached by former NBA great Reggie Theus, the Wildcats were 9-21 last season. A Monday night opener is a new wrinkle for the Hawkeyes, who usually tip off their season on a Thursday or Friday.
Friday, Nov. 11 — vs. North Carolina A&T: At No. 289, the Aggies of the Big South are the second-best KenPom.com opponent among Iowa's five home "buy" games. A comfortable 2-0 start to the season will help McCaffery get key young wild cards like Riley Mulvey and Dasonte Bowen some valuable playing time.
Wednesday, Nov. 16 — at Seton Hall: Iowa's first Gavitt Games appearance since 2019 means a trip to Newark, New Jersey, and the Prudential Center. The Hawkeyes will be facing a new Pirates coach in Shaheen Holloway, who led the Saint Peter's miracle run to the Elite Eight of the most recent NCAA Tournament. This is a good chance for an Iowa team with new leaders to get a feel for playing on the road against a quality opponent.
Monday, Nov. 21 — vs. Omaha: Payback time? One of the most humbling moments of the McCaffery era was a 98-89 home loss to Omaha that got his 2016-17 team — during Peter Jok's senior year — off to a 3-5 start. (That group bounced back and nearly made the NCAA Tournament.) This is the first meeting since.
Friday, Nov. 25 — vs. Clemson in Niceville, Fla.: A semifinal in the Emerald Coast Classic will be a stern test; the Tigers are typically a solid team in the Atlantic Coast Conference. This is one of Iowa's few known tip-off times, at 6 p.m. CT ... which should coincide with the fourth quarter of that day's Iowa home football game vs. Nebraska.
Saturday, Nov. 26 — vs. California or TCU: The ideal "Quad 1 win opportunity" scenario is that Iowa faces TCU, an expected top-20 preseason team that brings back all five starters, including star point guard Mike Miles, from a team that nearly made the NCAA Sweet 16. And ideally, it's in the championship game. Iowa could make an early-season statement by sweeping its first six games entering a high-profile stretch.
Tuesday, Nov. 29 — vs. Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets regressed to 12-20 last season and should offer Iowa a good opportunity to improve its hot streak in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. McCaffery's Hawkeyes have won four straight Challenge games, the longest active win streak for any team in either conference.
Tuesday, Dec. 6 — vs. Duke in New York City: It's gonna be awesome, baby! The Jimmy V Classic offers an enormous stage for Kris Murray and Co. to face the Blue Devils and their star-studded freshman class on ESPN and under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. A fantastic opportunity for the more-experienced Hawkeyes to show their stuff.
Thursday, Dec. 8 — vs. Iowa State: A tight turnaround greets Iowa for the Cy-Hawk game, but obviously there is a lot of familiarity here ... not to mention motivation for the Hawkeyes, who were lit up in a 73-53 loss in Ames a year ago.
Saturday, Dec. 17 — vs. SE Missouri State: The first of back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference opponents will feel like a breather for fans (and players?) after such a first-month gauntlet. If Iowa has an early-season bumps and bruises physically, this is a good stretch to heal them.
Wednesday, Dec. 21 — vs. Eastern Illinois: The Panthers went 5-26 last season and finished No. 357 out of 358 teams in the KenPom.com rankings. But hey, it's a good breather on the doorstep of the Big Ten schedule that has yet to be announced.
And there you have it. If Iowa can go 8-3, that's pretty good. If it goes 9-2, that'd be a success. Anything better, and that might set the stage for another NCAA Tournament opportunity with a decent seed.
Keep in mind, most Big Ten teams now play two conference games in late November/early December, too. However, given Iowa added Duke to its early-December slate, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Hawkeyes get just one early Big Ten game in that Dec. 2-3 range and another just after Christmas to put them on track for a 20-game conference slate like everyone else.