Watching Iowa basketball in recent years has typically been a bit of a loner's game. Often during the preseason it would be relegated to the Big Ten Network's online feeds, which means hoping your cable provider decided to pick up that service (a crapshoot at best) or going to a sparsely populated Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa's better non-con games and most of its Big Ten schedule got the BTN on-air treatment, which is better, but unless there's an Iowa-friendly bar close by odds are the only way you're going to watch the game with sound is still at home. A handful of games might make it to ESPNU or ESPN2, but usually that was just a sign that a good team was about to put a trouncing on the bland and gold. And ESPN? The big boys? Hahahahaha no. Not for Iowa.
The times have changed.
ESPN released its "Super Tuesday" lineup this afternoon, a 9-week schedule of Big Ten and SEC conference basketball games (one each, one after the other every Tuesday on ESPN). Of the nine Big Ten games, three involve the Hawkeyes. That's tied for the second-most of any Big Ten team: just as many as Michigan State, just as many as Ohio State and one fewer than Indiana's four appearances. Michigan and Wisconsin only show up twice. NOW WHO'S THE HORSE???
Iowa hosts Michigan State on January 28 at 6 pm* in a game that usually favors the Hawkeyes; a late rally helped the Spartans win last year. The next week (Feb. 4), Ohio State comes to Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 6 pm, and the final appearance will be Iowa's trip to Assembly Hall to face host Indiana on February
25 18 at 8 pm.
All three of those games could go horribly wrong for Iowa (though MSU rarely has its act together in Iowa City for whatever reason), but they could go horribly right, too, and the good news is that the college basketball world will be tuning in to watch either way. This is what relevancy looks like—not to mention membership in a premier conference—and it's great to see Iowa on the right side. For once.
*God's Time, aka Central, obviously.