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Iowa Basketball: Fran McCaffery Addresses Media, Hawkeyes Add Gonzaga to 2020 Schedule

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With a neutral site matchup against Gonzaga on the books, Iowa’s 2020 schedule is rounding into shape.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Iowa
Fran McCaffery, Luka Garz and the Hawkeyes will get a crack at the preseason #1 team in the nation.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

We’re inside of two months from the announced start date of the 2020 college basketball season and teams around the country are still working to iron out what schedules for the upcoming season. Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery met with the media on Tuesday afternoon to touch on a number of topics. Among them was Iowa’s potential schedule for 2020.

While many details still need to be ironed out, the broad structure is starting to take shape. Again. On the call, McCaffery confirmed the Hawkeyes are intending to play a 27-game schedule ahead of the Big Ten Conference Tournament and NCAA Tournament (also of note, he indicated the NCAA has already determined the Tournament will move forward in it’s traditional format rather than expanding as had been rumored).

Those 27 total games will be comprised of 20 Big Ten matchups, 10 home and 10 away, with the remaining 7 from non-conference opponents. As to who those 7 remaining opponents will be, we don’t have all the answers, but we can back into a few.

As with every other year, the Hawkeyes were slated to take on Iowa State in 2020. That game is still expected to be played. The Big Ten/ACC Challenge is also expected to move forward in some format. While matchups have not been set, Iowa has been rumored to be paired with North Carolina. Then there’s the Gavitt Tipoff Games where the Hawkeyes were rumored to be matched up with Creighton for 2020. Unfortunately, that series with the Big East is rumored to be trending in the wrong direction for this season.

Similarly, Iowa’s matchup with Oregon State of the Pac-12, originally scheduled for December 12th at The Pentagon in Sioux Falls, SD, is reportedly off the table. However, we learned Tuesday night the Hawkeyes are replacing the matchup against the Beavers with a primetime matchup against Gonzaga on December 19th and keeping the game at The Pentagon.

The Bulldogs come into the 2020 season as one of only a handful of teams with more hype than Iowa, Gonzaga is ranked #1 in the nation by CBS Sports with the Hawkeyes at #5. This is an opportunity for Iowa to nab a signature win early in the year and gain some crucial experience against top competition before the heart of Big Ten play hits.

As CBS Sports reports:

It remains to be seen if any fans will be allowed to attend. The Sanford Pentagon is an attractive option in part because Sanford Health is a business partner with the basketball facilities and the rapid-response testing is promised to be as robust as any neutral-site event college basketball will have this regular season.

So, that gives Iowa 3 of its 7 non-conference opponents. Three of the remaining four are likely to come from a multi-team event (MTE) in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes were originally slated to host Southern, South Dakota, and NC Central in their MTE. With the COVID-19 situation, it’s unclear whether those same opponents will be interested in playing, but McCaffery reaffirmed on Tuesday the Hawkeyes plan to honor their contract with the three schools if they wish to play and will move forward with a 4-team MTE (read: Iowa plus 3 opponents) regardless of what the three original opponents choose to do.

That leaves just one game open to hit 27 total and puts Iowa at 15 home games (the Hawkeyes would host Iowa State after playing in Ames a year ago) with one neutral site game. A season ago, Iowa hosted 16 home games. Look for the last opponent to be a home or neutral site matchup rather than a true road game.

To recap:

What We Know

  • 27-game regular season schedule
  • 20-game Big Ten slate, 10 home and 10 away games
  • Big Ten/ACC Challenge (rumored to be UNC) intact
  • Gavitt Tipoff Games (Creighton) likely off the table
  • #5 Iowa vs. #1 Gonzaga at The Pentagon on December 19th
  • Iowa will host 4-team multi-team event in Iowa City

Still To Be Determined

  • Big Ten home/away schedule and single-matchup opponents
  • Final non-conference opponent (note: if the Gavitt Games were to stay intact, this would be a non-factor)
  • Three opponents for MTE in Iowa City (originally scheduled as Southern, South Dakota and North Carolina Central)

We’re less than 50 days away from college basketball returning and with each passing day we should get more detail on schedules and opponents for teams around the nation. As those dominoes fall, we can continue to back into some answers on the TBD portion of Iowa’s schedule.

Buckle up folks, it’s going to be a fun ride!