We saw reports earlier in the week that Iowa would be hosting Seton Hall as the part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games early season series between the Big Ten and Big East. Yesterday The Gazette's Scott Dochterman wrote that Iowa and Iowa State had renewed the basketball version of the Cy-Hawk series for a further four years, with Iowa hosting the 2016 and 2018 games and Iowa State hosting the 2017 and 2019 games. I wasn't aware that the series was in need of renewal -- but the truth is that there's very little chance of the Cy-Hawk Series going dormant in any sport for the forseeable future. Iowa State is a major conference opponent a few hours to the west of Iowa -- of course we're going to keep playing them. In some sports that may be less beneficial, but that certainly isn't the case in basketball, where the annual Iowa State game has become one of the top games on Iowa's non-conference schedule year in and year out. Now if we could just work on winning a few more of them...
Thanks to Dochterman's article we also have the opponents and date for a handful of other non-conference games next year as well. In fact, we have a good idea about all but maybe two or three of Iowa's non-conference games next season. Let's break it down a bit:
|Friday, November 11||Kennesaw State||Iowa City, IA||11-20||249||258|
|November ???||Seton Hall||Iowa City, IA||25-9||22||23|
|November 12-22||Texas-Rio Grande Valley OR*||Iowa City, IA||8-22||347||335|
|November 12-22||St. Francis NY OR*||Iowa City, IA||15-17||280||273|
|November 12-22||Savannah State OR*||Iowa City, IA||16-16||325||286|
|November 12-22||Grambling State*||Iowa City, IA||6-24||346||350|
|Friday, November 25||Virginia||Niceville, FL||29-8||3||4|
|Saturday, November 26||Memphis OR**||Niceville, FL||19-15||72||140|
|Saturday, November 26||Providence**||Niceville, FL||24-11||44||32|
|November 29-30?||ACC opponent TBA||???||???||???||???|
|Saturday, December 3||Nebraska-Omaha||Iowa City, IA||18-14||148||149|
|Thursday, December 8||Iowa State||Iowa City, IA||23-12||16||21|
|Saturday, December 17||UNI||Des Moines, IA||23-13||66||65|
|Tuesday, December 20||North Dakota||Iowa City, IA||17-16||192||221|
* Iowa will not be playing all four of these teams -- they'll be playing just two of them. But I listed them all in the table as they're all potential opponents.
** Likewise, Iowa will only be playing Memphis OR Providence in the Emerald Coast Classic, not both of them.
Iowa's game with Seton Hall is not yet confirmed, but if the Gavitt Tipoff Games happened near the beginning of the season last year, and it's safe to assume that's when they'll occur this year, too. They are Tipoff Games, after all. If the season tips off on November 11, you can probably pencil the Tipoff Games in for the following week (November 14-18).
As part of the Emerald Coast Classic Iowa will play two games against some combination of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, Savannah State, St. Francis-New York, and Grambling State. Those games will take place in Iowa City and they'll take place between November 12-22. All four of those teams are pretty bad and should be easy wins.
Iowa will once again take part in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, but the identity of their opponent is still TBA. Based on past precedent, the ACC-Big Ten Challenge match-ups should be set later this month or in May. It's hard to speculate on who that opponent might be, although I'd guess Iowa will be on the road for that game since they hosted Florida State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in 2015. That game may be Iowa's only true road game of the non-conference slate.
Iowa also has four games lined up for December -- home games against the Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota, the aforementioned home game with Iowa State, and the Big Four Classic Game against UNI in Des Moines.
All told, this information helps us account for 11 of Iowa's non-conference games. They played 12 non-conference games last year, but have more commonly played 13 non-conference games. Iowa currently has six home games scheduled, so you can bet that at least one of the remaining non-conference games will be in Iowa City. That game will likely be against a weaker opponent as well.
Still, there aren't a ton of weak opponents on this schedule -- definitely not as many as we might have expected to see given the inexperience and uncertainty that will characterize next year's Iowa team. Previous year's KenPom/RPI rankings aren't necessarily all that predictive of the next year's rankings, but as it stands Iowa could be facing five RPI Top 100 opponents, including four in the Top 50. That number could increase when we find out who Iowa draws in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, too. Even Iowa's "guarantee game" opponents are fairly respectable -- Kennesaw State is bad, but not sub-300 awful, and Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota are within the RPI Top 250. The opponents Iowa will draw at home in the Emerald Coast Classic will be bad, but there's nothing that can be done about that. The remaining teams Iowa adds to this schedule probably won't be anything special, but as long as they're not sub-300 RPI bombs, it shouldn't matter too much.
This is shaping up to be a non-conference schedule that will give Iowa several opportunities to record impressive early wins -- as well as a schedule that should leave Iowa in pretty good shape in terms of a potential NCAA Tournament resume come next March. This won't be an easy schedule, especially not with a team that will be so dependent on freshmen and underclassmen, but that's also what makes it exciting. Wins are nice, but man -- and basketball teams -- cannot live on cupcakes alone. We'll update this schedule as additional information becomes available.