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Iowa Hawkeyes Basketball Big Ten Opponents Analysis

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The Hawks avoid the second game against MSU but face Michigan and Purdue twice

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, the Iowa Hawkeyes released their planned opponents for the 2019-20 Big Ten Conference Schedule with a cool graphic involving Jordan Bohannon tying his shoe.

It makes sense because the teams Iowa played once last year are now teams they’ll play twice and vice versa with Nebraska as the exception. Is this a new scheduling quirk for the Big Ten as protected rivalries make their way into the conference landscape? It certainly makes sense to play each team thrice over two seasons with a common home-and-home opponent in back-to-back seasons. It will be interesting to see if Iowa is matched up with Wisconsin or Minnesota in such a scenario.

Some other scheduling quirks from Iowa’s schedule include back-to-back home games for Iowa in single-game seasons against Wisconsin (2018 & 2020) which has Bohannon playing in Madison just twice, as Chad Leistikow pointed out. Another notable game is D.J. Carton’s return to Iowa as the only matchup between the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes will be at Carver.

With a strong non-conference schedule of Creighton then San Diego State or Texas Tech, at Iowa State, in Chicago against Cincinnati, and to-be-determined opponents in the ACC and Big East for conference challenge games, next season figures to be the strongest out-of-conference schedule Iowa has faced in years on top of the 20-game conference season.

In using the final results of this year’s conference, Iowa’s schedule looks to be pretty middle of the pack.

Conference Strength of Schedules

Team 2018-19 SOS Away SOS Home SOS 2019-20 SOS
Team 2018-19 SOS Away SOS Home SOS 2019-20 SOS
Illinois 15.95 15.88 18.15 17.02
Rutgers 16.38 16.26 17.07 16.66
Northwestern 16.23 14.41 18.75 16.58
Indiana 16.87 14.28 18.22 16.25
Ohio State 16.17 15.23 17.04 16.14
Iowa 16.07 14.97 17.13 16.05
Minnesota 16.73 13.72 18.31 16.01
Nebraska 16.91 12.84 18.5 15.67
Wisconsin 15.71 15.23 15.98 15.6
Michigan 15.97 13.51 16.99 15.25
Penn State 16.86 14.74 15.66 15.2
Michigan State 15.76 14.23 15.53 14.88
Maryland 17.2 12.68 17.05 14.87
Purdue 15.91 12.84 16.59 14.71
kenpom.com

Teams will look different with all of the new recruits, graduations, early declarations, and a coaching change so it’s obviously just an estimation. The team which sticks out for me, though, is Maryland who finished fifth with the most difficult conference schedule this year but will have the second easiest for next year. They’ll lose Bruno Fernando but return a very good and very experienced core.

One last bit of projection is: what does Iowa’s early December games look like? Those matchups are typically taken from the pool home-and-home games. My preferred pair would be at Minnesota while hosting Nebraska.

What are your thoughts on the schedule?