IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Big Ten’s inaugural 20-game season means Iowa’s men’s basketball team faces neighbors Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska more often over the next six years.
In the 2018-19 season, the Hawkeyes play the Badgers and Cornhuskers twice and the Gophers once. It’s notable because Iowa has played Wisconsin just once in each of the last three seasons. The Hawkeyes have won the last two meetings, but the Badgers hold the series lead 83-81. The last time they played twice in the same season, Wisconsin advanced to the NCAA Championship Game and Iowa’s season ended in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.
Iowa finished 14-19 overall and 4-14 in Big Ten play last year. It was the first time since 2012 the Hawkeyes hadn’t finished at least 9-9 in Big Ten play.
Joining Wisconsin and Nebraska as Iowa’s double plays are Indiana, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Rutgers. The only schools the Hawkeyes played twice last year were the Hoosiers and Buckeyes.
The Big Ten voted to expand its regular-season schedule from 18 to 20 men’s basketball games beginning with the 2018-19 season. Previously, teams entered a true rotation where they battled five opponents twice and eight foes once. With the 20-game schedule, teams play seven opponents twice and six other teams once.
There are some modest changes, however. In-state rivalries now are automatic annual double plays. Those are Indiana-Purdue, Michigan-Michigan State and Northwestern-Illinois. The four westernmost teams (Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska) will play each other 10 times in a six-year period, as will the four easternmost teams (Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland). All other teams face one another nine times over six years.
Among single-play games, Iowa will play NCAA runner-up Michigan, Illinois and Maryland at home and travel to Minnesota, Penn State and Purdue. The times, dates and networks will be announced at a later time, likely in August. Most of Iowa’s nonconference schedule is set, Land of 10 reported first last week.
Here’s a brief breakdown of Iowa’s 2018-19 Big Ten opponents:
INDIANA — The Hoosiers swept the Hawkeyes in their two meetings last year. This is the fourth straight year the teams will play at least twice, counting their 2017 Big Ten Tournament game. Indiana leads the series 103-76.
MICHIGAN STATE — The last time Iowa played Michigan State twice, the Hawkeyes swept the Spartans. Both times Michigan State was ranked in the top 5. But that was in 2015-16. Michigan State has won the last two encounters, including a 96-93 shootout in Iowa City last season. The Spartans are up 73-55 historically.
NEBRASKA — The schedule continues a pattern where the Hawkeyes and Huskers will play two games one year, then one game the next. Of course that changes with the new scheduling arrangement. Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten, Iowa leads 7-4. All-time, the Hawkeyes are up 19-11.
NORTHWESTERN — This is the first time since 2015 the Hawkeyes and Wildcats will play twice in a season. Iowa claimed the only meeting last year in Iowa City in the regular-season finale and leads the all-time series 116-60.
OHIO STATE — The Buckeyes swept the season series last year and now lead 80-79 all-time. This is the second straight year the teams will play twice and the fourth time in six years.
RUTGERS — The Scarlet Knights picked up their first win against Iowa last year in Piscataway, N.J. This is only the second time they’ve played twice in a season since Rutgers joined the Big Ten. Iowa leads the series 5-1.
WISCONSIN — This is the first time the border rivals will face off twice in the same season since 2015. Iowa has won the last two, but Wisconsin claimed the previous six and leads 83-81 all-time.
Singles at home
ILLINOIS — Iowa swept the Fighting Illini in both meetings last year, including a first-round Big Ten Tournament game. The longtime border foes played twice in each of the previous three seasons, but only once was it scheduled. The other two were in the Big Ten Tournament. Illinois leads the hotly contested rivalry 83-75.
MARYLAND — Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014 and holds a 5-3 series lead. The Terrapins won the 2017=18 season meeting in College Park, Md.
MICHIGAN — The Wolverines beat Iowa three times en route to an NCAA Tournament championship appearance. Michigan’s victories ended a five-game Iowa winning streak. The final game was the most difficult for Michigan — an overtime victory in a Big Ten Tournament game. The Wolverines, who won in Iowa City for the first time in seven years, lead the series 94-63.
Singles on the road
MINNESOTA — The Gophers are Iowa’s most-played opponent and lead the Hawkeyes 105-95 all-time. The teams held serve on their home floors last season. This is the third time in the last four seasons the rivals are scheduled to play just once.
PENN STATE — For only the second time in the last five years, the teams will play just once. Last year, Penn State swept Iowa for the first time since 1995 and ended a 12-game losing streak at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. But the Nittany Lions have won the last two and seven of the last 10 in University Park, Pa. Iowa leads the series 29-17.
PURDUE — The red-hot Boilermakers crushed the Hawkeyes in Iowa City in their only meeting last season. Purdue leads 89-76 all-time and has won eight of the last nine at Mackey Arena.