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Analyzing the Big Ten’s basketball matchups

The Iowa Hawkeyes’ slate looks more difficult on the road than at home

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

The Big Ten released their basketball matchups yesterday afternoon and the Hawkeyes were granted the following opponents:

With Nebraska, Minnesota, & Penn State on Iowa’s home-and-home, that grants the Hawkeyes six games against teams who played on Wednesday of the Big Ten tournament this past season. Iowa also seems to be the beneficiary of catching two teams potentially on the upswing (IU and MSU) just once at home.

However, Iowa will face each of Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and Purdue twice (Seth Davis has them ranked in the top 11 of his way-too-early rankings). Additionally, facing two teams in Rutgers and Wisconsin on the road could factor in heavily if all three teams are sitting on the bubble.

The home matchup with Illinois is probably the marquee game among Iowa’s home opponents. They should be protected rivals, which would let Minnesota have Wisconsin and designates Nebraska/Northwestern as a fake rivalry.

On the whole, it feels like it could have been better or could have been worse. Pretty normal scheduling. If there’s one miss, it would have been great to catch Wisconsin a second time in a similar fashion to wanting two regular season matchups with the Illini this past season.

With that, let’s take a deeper look at the conference writ large. I’ve translated the matchups into a table you can access here and aggregated that into the graph below, based on KenPom’s final ratings of the teams:

data via KenPom

Wisconsin skates in 2020 analysis

Their single plays include Iowa and Michigan, both at home, and Illinois and Maryland on the road. So you see them at the bottom of road strength and in the murky middle of home strength.

Indiana looks like a sleeper

The comp here, is Michigan from this past season, as they were able to leverage a lean conference slate to a wire-to-wire conference title despite tepid, and frankly too low, expectations as they entered the season ranked 25th. IU’s hire of Mike Woodson, a man who’s turned around a couple NBA teams, looks to be a home run as he’s kept hay in the barn with Trayce Jackson-Davis returning and amped up the recruiting. Their single plays of Michigan and Illinois - both at home - could grant them valuable tiebreakers if the top gets congested.

Michigan State’s return to the top would be tough on the road

They avoid traveling to the Hoosier state, with IU & Purdue as single play home games but are tasked with Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, & Wisconsin in home-and-homes. Iowa, Ohio State, and Rutgers are three tricky single-play road games to maneuver as well. For Tom Izzo to prove last season was a pure one-off, he’ll have to pull a rabbit out of his hat.

There are other thoughts to be had about the schedule as these were just the three which stuck out as main non-Iowa takeaways. How do you view the Hawkeyes slate? Are you penciling any games to attend? What about around the conference?