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The Hawkeyes highlight the Big Ten’s foray into Christmas Day basketball

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

Well, just a week before college basketball is set to begin, the Big Ten released their conference basketball schedule. It begins in earnest, much earlier than normal - games begin about once per day on Sunday, December 13th. Teams are scheduled to play 20 games.

With roughly the same end date as one would have expected (Selection Sunday is slated for March 14th, meaning the regular season ends the weekend before the conference tournament), the Big Ten does not allow for games to be rescheduled into a buffer week ahead of tournament play.

Below is the Iowa Hawkeyes’s schedule:

Tuesday, 12/22/2020: Purdue at Iowa
Friday, 12/25/2020: Iowa at Minnesota
Tuesday, 12/29/2020: Northwestern at Iowa
Saturday, 1/2/2021: Iowa at Rutgers
Thursday, 1/7/2021: Iowa at Maryland
Sun., 1/10/2021 or Mon., 1/11/2021: Minnesota at Iowa
Thursday, 1/14/2021: Michigan State at Iowa
Sun., 1/17/2021 or Mon., 1/18/2021: Iowa at Northwestern
Thursday, 1/21/2021: Indiana at Iowa
Sunday, 1/24/2021: Nebraska at Iowa
Friday, 1/29/2021: Iowa at Illinois
Thursday, 2/4/2021: Ohio State at Iowa
Sunday, 2/7/2021: Iowa at Indiana
Wednesday, 2/10/2021: Rutgers at Iowa
Saturday, 2/13/2021: Iowa at Michigan State
Thursday, 2/18/2021: Iowa at Wisconsin
Sunday, 2/21/2021: Penn State at Iowa
Sunday, 2/28/2021: Iowa at Ohio State
Thursday, 3/4/2021: Iowa at Michigan
Sunday, 3/7/2021: Wisconsin at Iowa

It breaks down as such:

Home & Homes: Minnesota Golden Gophers, Indiana Hoosiers, Northwestern Wildcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Wisconsin Badgers, Michigan State Spartans, Rutgers Scarlet Knights
At Iowa: Purdue Boilermakers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Nebraska Cornhuskers
On the road: Illinois Fighting Illini, Michigan Wolverines, Maryland Terrapins

Quick hits

  • Honestly a little disappointed the Hawks are scheduled to take on Illinois just once this year, as that seems to be developing into the rivalry it once was
  • Iowa at Minnesota is one of four Christmas Day games. It is hardly the highlight but marks an interesting foray into the space normally occupied by the NBA. The other games are: Wisconsin at Michigan State, Michigan at Nebraska, & Maryland at Purdue.
  • Not thrilled about Iowa at Indiana on Super Bowl Sunday! Iowa’s drawn that short stick a few times recently.
  • Just two Saturday games, neither at home, and one Friday game (at Illinois!) outside of the Christmas matchup at the Goofers. Normally this might mean a little more consternation among fans about a lackluster slate of home games but there have not yet been details released about attendance.

Overall, the wide berth of games seems to give Iowa a little smoothing in terms of a tough individual stretch. There are some tricky back-to-backs (at both Michigan State & Wisconsin in mid-February sticks out) but there doesn’t appear to be any three games in seven days we’ve grown accustom to seeing in the 20-game schedule.

Teams can have up to 7 non-conference games and Iowa has at least three* on the docket: North Carolina on 12/8 for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Gonzaga on 12/19 in Sioux Falls, and Iowa State at some point.

The full conference schedule is here. What thoughts do you have?

Update: Here is the full schedule including TBD matchups with Western Illinois & the Cyclones.