And now a brief interlude away from football... We already knew Iowa's 2012-13 non-conference basketball schedule, which was released a few weeks back. It's not very good, unless you love cupcakes. But the Big Ten portion of the schedule is out as well now, which means we now have Iowa's full 2012-13 schedule. Let's take a look at it, shall we?
NOTE: Gametimes and TV arrangements have not been set yet. I would expect a lot of BTN.com action in November and December, though.
Again, nothing much new here. We discussed it extensively earlier this month. The lone new addition here is Indiana, Iowa's Big Ten opener on New Year's Eve. The good news is the game is at home. The bad news is it's Indiana, who might be the #1 team in the country next year. And we won't be able to rely on Gatens shooting out of his freaking mind this year. Welcome to the Thunderdome, Hawkeyes.
Here's the heart of Big Ten play. Remember that brutal opening kick Iowa had last year (Purdue, at Wisconsin, at Minnesota, Ohio State, at Michigan State, Michigan, at Purdue)? It's not much easier this year. After the opener against Indiana, Iowa plays at Michigan, hosts Michigan State, heads to Northwestern, hosts Wisconsin, and plays back-to-back road games at Ohio State and Purdue. That does not look like fun. On the other hand, Iowa went 3-4 against that seemingly brutal stretch a year ago, so maybe lightning can strike twice. Evanston has been a
library of lethargy house of horrors for Iowa in recent years, but this would might be a great opportunity for Iowa to get a win there. Iowa had great success against Michigan and Wisconsin (combined record: 3-0) last year; hopefully they can recapture that magic this year. Sparty will be tough, no question, but at least the game's at home. The road games against Ohio State and Purdue look particularly daunting.
Also of note: the January 19th game against Wisconsin will be played on the 20th anniversary of Chris Street's death. That should be a very emotional day.
The schedule does lighten up after that, though. Their next seven games are Penn State at home, Minnesota away, Wisconsin away, Northwestern at home, Penn State away, Minnesota at home, and Nebraska away. This stretch could be critical to Iowa's postseason aspirations. They can't afford to split with Penn State again, nor can they afford to lose to Nebraska. They need to protect their home court against Northwestern and while it may be asking too much for another sweep of Minnesota (who figures to be much-improved this year with a healthy Trevor Mbakwe, a split would be nice. Picking up a road win at Minnesota or Wisconsin would also be great for Iowa's tourney profile.
That leaves the final four-game kick, which features three home games (Purdue, Illinois, and Nebraska) and a brutal road trip to Bloomington, IN to take on Indiana. Having three home games in their final five outings should give Iowa an excellent opportunity to end the season on a hot streak which, again, would be great for Iowa's tourney profile.
The Big Ten schedule certainly isn't easy, although it could be worse -- they only play Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Illinois once and most of those teams figure to be among the best in the league. They get to play Penn State, Nebraska, and Northwestern twice apiece, which should be fortuitous. But, really, there's no easy Big Ten schedule this year -- the league was a buzzsaw last year and it's probably going to be a buzzsaw again this year. It might be nice if Iowa was able to ease into league play with someone like Nebraska or Penn State rather than getting thrown into the deep end with Indiana, but we don't have that luxury. Let's hope the freshmen are ready.
When we discussed the non-conference schedule, we noted that Iowa needed to get 10-11 wins out of those games -- and that was a plausible prediction, given the state of those opponents. So what's a plausible prediction out of Big Ten play? It's hard to say, although I do feel like 9-10 wins is very doable... if Iowa can take care of business against some of the (theoretical) lesser-rans in the league. We'll see how things shake out in a few months... and I, for one, can't wait.