The Big Ten announced its conference basketball schedules on Thursday afternoon, and while the slate of opponents is strong, the scheduling itself leaves plenty to be desired. Here's the full rundown:
In text form, it goes like this:
Tuesday 12/29 vs. Michigan State
Saturday 1/2 at Purdue
Tuesday 1/5 vs. Nebraska
Thursday 1/14 at Michigan State
Sunday 1/17 vs. Michigan
Thursday 1/21 at Rutgers
Sunday 1/24 vs. Purdue
Thursday 1/28 at Maryland
Sunday 1/31 vs. Northwestern
Wednesday 2/3 vs. Penn State
Sunday 2/7 at Illinois
Thursday 2/11 at Indiana
Sunday 2/14 vs. Minnesota
Wednesday 2/17 at Penn State
Wednesday 2/24 vs. Wisconsin
Saturday 2/27 OR Sunday 2/28 at Ohio State
Tuesday 3/1 vs. Indiana
Saturday 3/5 at Michigan
Some quick thoughts...
Iowa gets two games apiece against Michigan State, Indiana, Michigan, Purdue and Penn State. Its home-only opponents are Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Minnesota, while road-only foes are Rutgers, Maryland, Illinois and Ohio State. That's pretty down-the-middle in terms of balance. Do you suppose it's a coincidence that all the home-only foes are B1G West teams, and all the road-only games are in the B1G East? I mean, it probably is.
You've probably noticed a theme: a lot of Sundays at home, and a lot of Thursdays on the road, especially in the first half of the conference season. Indeed, Iowa doesn't have a single Saturday at home, which is A) really bad news for fans who come from out of town and like to make an evening of their time in Iowa City; and B) extremely unusual.
I've searched back to 1966-67 & can't find a season in which Iowa didn't have at least TWO Saturday B1G home games. They get zero in 2015-16— Patrick Vint (@HS_BHGP) August 27, 2015
Mr. Vint has since informed us that Basketball-Reference's archive goes back to the 1949-50 season, and still—never fewer than two Saturday B1G home games. In fact, Iowa has one (ONE) Saturday home opponent for the entire season: UMKC, on December 5th. You throw the records out the window when the Kangaroos and Hawkeyes lock horns!
It's not even like the men are clearing out Saturdays for the women's team; Bluder's gang gets two Saturdays over the course of the season, Bradley on December 19th and then Illinois on February 27 to close out the regular season. That should be a fun one.
If I were in the hotel or bar industry I'd be pretty upset about this. Maybe you get some fans who come up on Saturday night, party it up then head home, but your post-game revelries are going to be virtually non-existent. There isn't even a Thursday game in Iowa City for the fans who might ordinarily take a three-day weekend.
Also, the schedule gets brutal down the stretch, as only three of the last eight games are at home, and the last four—vs. Wisconsin, at Ohio State, vs. Indiana and at Michigan—could make or break Iowa's bubble hopes.
That all being said, this is a fun home slate. Northwestern's probably another snoozer, but the next-worst opponent in terms of fan interest is probably Penn State, then it's OUR MOST HATED RIVAL. If you've got six more interesting home conference opponents than Purdue, you've got a lively home schedule. You'd hope Iowa will be routinely selling out these games, but we'll see how much the scheduling (dates and times) factors into that. No times have been announced, but you'd imagine plenty of those Thursday road trips will be 6 p.m. tips here, because there's no way the Big Ten wants to make a habit of 9 p.m. tip-offs on the east coast in the middle of winter.
Oh, speaking of which: we do have a time for the Drake game in Des Moines. Iowa announced a tip-off of 3:30 p.m. for that Saturday (!) December 19th game at Wells Fargo Arena, and it'll be aired on... ESPN3. Yeah, web-only. I don't get it either.
What say you all?