Iowa released their conference opponents on Twitter today to drive season ticket renewals:
If that home slate looks familiar, it’s because I made the soft prediction on three of those teams last week:
If the Big Ten is able to match the schedule up with last year’s so one-offs don’t occur at one team’s court in back-to-back years, then Northwestern, Michigan State, and Wisconsin would be coming to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
That’s enough self-congratulation.
Overall, it’s a great conference slate as many of the Big Ten contenders will be visiting Iowa City next year. This makes up for the fact that only six other games - likely all creampuffs - will be at home, with seven neutral and away games set in stone. On the flip side, it doesn't offer the same upside, RPI-wise, as a schedule with strong road opponents.
Looking across the league, it is likely the last time Purdue and Indiana face off only once, as the intrastate rivalry will become protected.
While I don’t necessarily share Scott Dochterman’s optimism, if I squint, I can see a ceiling of 13 wins. 13 would be the best in the Fran era and highest conference total since 1986-87, when the Hawkeyes went 14-4 in conference in a round robin format. Also of note, 13 wins* has guaranteed a top 4 finish in the KenPom era (since 2002).
*or equivalent in a 16-game season
What do you make of the schedule? Does any game have you particularly jazzed?