IOWA CITY, Iowa — The new-look Big Ten men’s basketball schedule includes some unusual quirks — and some eye-raising matchups — for the Iowa men’s basketball program.
With the Big Ten Tournament moved up a week in New York City, the league slate ends Feb. 25. That led to a pair of league games shifting to early December and a relaxing of some Big Ten scheduling principles.
The Hawkeyes open Big Ten play on Saturday, Dec. 2 against Penn State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa has beaten the Nittany Lions 12 straight times in Iowa City, including 90-79 last season. Two days later, the Hawkeyes travel to Indiana to face the Hoosiers in new coach Archie Miller’s first home Big Ten game.
Big Ten play then is delayed until Jan. 2. The Hawkeyes host Michigan that night and follow two days later at Carver-Hawkeye Arena against Ohio State. It’s the second time in Big Ten play that Iowa gets just one day to prepare for an opponent — something that previously went against Big Ten scheduling principles.
Another quirk is Iowa gets three consecutive road games from Jan. 7 through Jan. 17 at Maryland, Illinois and Rutgers. Previously, schools would not play more than two straight road games. But two of the three games are held during the school’s winter break.
Iowa meets the top two teams from last season — Purdue and Wisconsin — in succession at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 20 and Jan. 23, respectively. In the season’s final month, the Hawkeyes face contenders Minnesota, Michigan State, Indiana and Northwestern in Iowa City.
UNREAL LUCK — Only twice does Iowa play consecutive games against teams that finished with winning Big Ten records last season. That’s Jan. 20 (Purdue) and Jan. 23 (Wisconsin) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and Feb. 21 (at Minnesota) and Feb. 25 (home vs. Northwestern).
TOUGHEST STRETCH — Feb. 10-21 (at Ohio State, at Michigan, vs. Indiana, at Minnesota)
FORTUNATE STRETCH — Jan. 17-27 (at Rutgers, vs. Purdue, vs. Wisconsin, at Nebraska)
TOUGH ROAD OPENER — Dec. 4 at Indiana in Hoosiers coach Archie Miller’s first Big Ten game at Assembly Hall
RANDOM FACT — Iowa closes Big Ten season at home for the seventh time in Fran McCaffery’s eight seasons. The Hawkeyes also open the league slate at home for the sixth time under McCaffery.
INDIANA (7-11 Big Ten)
- Bloomington (Dec. 4) — Indiana, 4-2 vs. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery (Indiana streak, 1); scoring margin: 4.3 (Indiana)
- Iowa City (Feb. 17) — Iowa, 3-2 (Iowa streak, 1); scoring margin: 5.0 (Iowa)
- Last season — Iowa won 96-90 in Iowa City (OT); Indiana won 95-73 in Big Ten Tournament
- Note: Hoosiers lost three underclassmen to NBA, hired new coach Archie Miller
MICHIGAN (10-8 Big Ten)
- Ann Arbor (Feb. 14) — Michigan, 3-2 (Iowa streak, 2); scoring margin: 5.6 (Michigan)
- Iowa City (Jan. 2) — Iowa, 4-1 (Iowa streak, 4): scoring margin: 9.0 (Iowa)
- Last year — Iowa won 86-83 in Iowa City (OT)
- Note: Wolverines lost 3 of top 4 scorers
MINNESOTA (11-7 Big Ten)
- Minneapolis (Feb. 21) — Minnesota, 4-2 (Minnesota streak, 1); scoring margin: 4.3 (Minnesota)
- Iowa City (Jan. 30) — Iowa, 4-2 (Iowa streak, 1); scoring margin: 4.6 (Iowa)
- Last year — Minnesota won 101-89 in Minneapolis (2 OT)
- Note: Gophers lose only 14 starts from NCAA Tournament team, return top 4 scorers
OHIO STATE (7-11 Big Ten)
- Columbus (Feb. 10) — Ohio State, 3-2 (Ohio State streak, 1); scoring margin, 3.8 (Ohio State)
- Iowa City (Jan. 4) — Ohio State, 3-2 (Iowa streak, 2); scoring margin, 3.8 (Ohio State)
- Last year — Iowa won 85-72 in Iowa City
- Note: Buckeyes lost three of top four scorers, have new coach Chris Holtmann
PENN STATE (6-12 Big Ten)
- State College (Feb. 3) — Tied, 3-3 (Penn State streak, 1); scoring margin: 0.8 (Penn State)
- Iowa City (Dec. 2) — Iowa, 4-0 (Iowa streak, 12); scoring margin: 13.3 (Iowa)
- Last year — Iowa won 90-79 in Iowa City
- Note: Penn State returns several key scorers, should be much improved
Home single plays
MICHIGAN STATE (10-8 Big Ten)
- Iowa City (Feb. 6) — Michigan State, 3-2 (Iowa streak, 1); scoring margin: 2.8 (Iowa)
- Last year — Michigan State won 77-66 in East Lansing, Mich.
- Note: Michigan State is the unquestioned Big Ten favorite
NORTHWESTERN (10-8 Big Ten)
- Iowa City (Feb. 25) — Iowa, 4-2 (Iowa streak, 4); scoring margin: 9.3 (Iowa)
- Last year — Northwestern won 89-54 in Evanston, Ill.
- Note: Wildcats return all but 10.5 points per game from last season’s NCAA Tournament team
PURDUE (14-4 Big Ten)
- Iowa City (Jan. 20) — Iowa, 5-1 (Iowa streak, 4); scoring margin: 5.5 (Iowa)
- Last year — Iowa won 83-78 in Iowa City; Purdue won 89-67 in West Lafayette, Ind.
- Note: Boilermakers lost Big Ten Player of the Year Caleb Swanigan but return every other starter
WISCONSIN (12-6 Big Ten)
- Iowa City (Jan. 23) — Wisconsin, 4-2 (Wisconsin streak, 3); scoring margin: 3.3 (Wisconsin)
- Last year — Iowa won 59-57 in Madison, Wis.
- Note: Badgers lost four of five starters, return All-Big Ten F Ethan Happ
Away single plays
ILLINOIS (8-10 Big Ten)
- Champaign, Ill. (Jan. 11) — Illinois, 3-2 (Illinois streak, 1); scoring margin: 3.4 (Illinois)
- Last year — Illinois won 76-64 in Champaign, Ill; Illinois won 70-66 in Iowa City
- Note: Illini lost top three scorers, hired new coach in Brad Underwood
MARYLAND (12-6 Big Ten)
- College Park, Md. (Jan. 7) — Tied, 1-1 (Iowa streak, 1); scoring margin: 4.0 (Iowa)
- Last year — Iowa won 83-69 in College Park, Md.; Maryland won 84-76 in Iowa City
- Note: Top scorer Melo Trimble exited, but talented Anthony Cowan, Justin Jackson return
NEBRASKA (6-12 Big Ten)
- Lincoln, Neb. (Jan. 27) — Tied, 2-2 (Nebraska streak, 1); scoring margin: 7.5 (Iowa)
- Last year — Nebraska won 93-90 in Lincoln, Neb. (2 OT); Iowa won 81-70 in Iowa City
- Note: Cornhuskers lost top scorer, top two rebounders from last season
RUTGERS (3-15 Big Ten)
- Piscataway, N.J. (Jan. 17) — Iowa, 2-0 (Iowa streak, 2); scoring margin: 17.0 (Iowa)
- Last year — Iowa won 83-63 in Piscataway, N.J; Iowa won 68-62 in Iowa City
- Note: Rutgers returns its top scorer (Corey Sanders) and rebounder (DeShawn Freeman) from last season