The Iowa Hawkeyes basketball schedule continues to take shape as a few out of conference games were announced within the past week or so. They’ll face the Oregon Ducks in Madison Square Garden in the 2K Classic (followed by the Connecticut Huskies or Syracuse Orange), UMKC Kangaroos & Green Bay Phoenix in two tournament-tied games, the Pittsburgh
Bag Droppers Panthers in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, and the mighty Bryant Bulldogs. They of 3 wins, a last place finish in the Northeast Conference, and the 344th best team according to KenPom.com.
Iowa will host Bryant as part of its 2018-19 non-conference schedule, per a source. Date is set for December 29th.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 12, 2018
This last game adds no value.
- It is not a requirement for a pre-conference tournament
- It is not a team who will challenge Iowa
- They are not a matchup which will bring fans through the doors of Carver-Hawkeye
- They’re so bad, even a win against them hurts Iowa in the RPI
I hesitate to disparage Bryant any further because they are kids trying their best and getting a free education out of the barnstorming tour of whoopins. But teams like them offer no upside in terms of a pre-conference matchup.
Below is a graph which averages the KenPom ranking of each team who finshed in the prior year slot. With 17 years of KenPom data, a trend emerges.
A team who finished in Bryant’s slot, 344th, has finished on average 340th the next year.
Now, there is some wiggle room. These very Bulldogs flipped their 2-28 2011-12 season (ranked 338) into a 19-16 campaign with a 176 KenPom finish. That’s pretty much the highlight of Tim O’Shea’s tenure. They’ve finished sub-300 6 out of their 10 Division I seasons.
For all of the consternation, though, it’s probably not the last time we’ll see one of these teams show up in Iowa City for a paycheck and a loss. Of the 29 teams who have finished in the bottom 50 over 50% of the time, Iowa’s scheduled 11 in the last 5 years.
The solution is not to completely avoid teams in these conferences. Playing them is pretty much a requirement in the modern college basketball landscape. What Iowa should target for these games are teams who will challenge for conference championships. We’ll see if Iowa adds another one as the offseason progresses.