We're gearing up for the imminent return of college football, but college basketball isn't that far off, either -- just a little over two months, really -- and now we have the schedule for Iowa's 2019-20 season. Take a gander:
|MON 11/4/19||--||TBD (exhibition)||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|FRI 11/8/19||--||SIU-EDWARDSVILLE||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|MON 11/11/19||--||DEPAUL (Gavitt Games)||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|FRI 11/15/19||--||ORAL ROBERTS||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|THU 11/21/19||--||NORTH FLORIDA (Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational - Preliminary Round)||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|SUN 11/24/19||--||CAL POLY (Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational - Preliminary Round)||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|THU 11/28/19||7:00 PM||TEXAS TECH (Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational)||Las Vegas, NV||--||--|
7:00 PM /
|CREIGHTON / SAN DIEGO STATE||Las Vegas, NV||--||--|
|TUE 12/3/19||--||SYRACUSE (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)||Syracuse, NY||--||--|
|FRI 12/6/19||--||MICHIGAN||Ann Arbor, MI||--||--|
|MON 12/9/19||--||MINNESOTA||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|THU 12/12/19||--||IOWA STATE (Cy-Hawk Series)||Ames, IA||--||--|
|SAT 12/21/19||--||CINCINNATI (Chicago Legends)||Chicago, IL||--||--|
|SUN 12/29/19||--||KENNESAW STATE||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|SAT 1/4/20||--||PENN STATE||Philadelphia, PA||--||--|
|TUE 1/7/20||--||NEBRASKA||Lincoln, NE||--||--|
|FRI 1/10/20||--||MARYLAND||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|TUE 1/14/20||--||NORTHWESTERN||Evanston, IL||--||--|
|FRI 1/17/20||--||MICHIGAN||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|WED 1/22/20||--||RUTGERS||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|MON 1/27/20||--||WISCONSIN||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|THU 1/30/20||--||MARYLAND||College Park, MD||--||--|
|SUN 2/2/20||--||ILLINOIS||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|WED 2/5/20||--||PURDUE||West Lafayette, IN||--||--|
|SAT 2/8/20||--||NEBRASKA||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|THU 2/13/20||--||INDIANA||Bloomington, IN||--||--|
|SUN 2/16/20||--||MINNESOTA||Minneapolis, MN||--||--|
|THU 2/20/20||--||OHIO STATE||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|TUE 2/25/20||--||MICHIGAN STATE||East Lansing, MI||--||--|
|SAT 2/29/20||--||PENN STATE||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|TUE 3/3/20||--||PURDUE||Iowa City, IA||--||--|
|SUN 3/8/20||--||ILLINOIS||Urbana-Champaign, IL||--||--|
At this point there are almost no tip-off times or TV assignments for these games, but we'll update our schedule page with that information as it becomes available.
A few thoughts:
Iowa opens the year with five straight homes games and they should be pretty heavily favored in all of them. Given the departures Iowa endured over the offseason (farewell, Tyler Cook, Nicholas Baer, Isaiah Moss, and Maishe Dailey), plus the likely absence of Jordan Bohannon, a soft opening isn't a bad thing for an Iowa team that's going to have to find its way in the early going this season. Other than DePaul (KenPom: 118) and North Florida (KP: 167), Iowa's other opening match-ups were ranked 290th or lower in last year's final KenPom rankings.
That said, the difficulty in Iowa's schedule will ramp up quickly after that. Six of their next seven games are away from home, starting with neutral site games in the Continental Tires Las Vegas Invitational. Iowa's first opponent in Vegas will be Texas Tech, the NCAA runners-up last season. The Red Raiders lost a lot from that team, but Chris Beard is an excellent coach and should have Tech formidable again. Their other Vegas game will be against either Creighton or San Diego State. Creighton would bring a reunion with former UNI and ISU head coach Greg McDermott; the Bluejays went 20-15 last year and played in the NIT. San Diego State went 21-13 last year, but did not play in the postseason.
Following that, Iowa flies across the country for a game with the Orange at Syracuse (KP: 39) as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge; the Cuse finished 20-14 last year and were an 8-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Iowa then opens up Big Ten play against a new-look Michigan team (KP: 6) in Ann Arbor, before facing Minnesota (KP: 46) in Iowa City a few days later. It's off to Iowa State (KP: 15) in Ames at the end of that week and then, after finals, Iowa faces Cincinnati (KP: 29) in Chicago at the United Center in a rematch of their NCAA Tournament first round game last year. At this point, a .500-ish record for Iowa over that stretch seems like it might be a solid accomplishment.
After wrapping up non-league play with a layup against Kennesaw State (KP: 339), Iowa heads into Big Ten play with an intriguing neutral site game against Penn State at The Palestra in Philadelphia (more on that in a bit). In fact, three of Iowa's first four Big Ten games to start 2020 are away from home. Lincoln and Evanston aren't the most inhospitable road venues, but they've also been plenty challenging to Iowa in years past.
Iowa does play four of their next five games in the friendly confines of Carver-Hawkeye Arena after that, including three in a row (Michigan, Rutgers, Wisconsin) in late January. Depending on how the season is going, that stretch could be pivotal for Iowa rebuilding their confidence (and their win-loss record) -- or, if things have been going well, consolidating their gains.
February opens with another spate of road games; three of Iowa's first five games that month are on the road, with trips to Purdue, Indiana, and Minnesota on the docket. West Lafayette is never easy to play, Iowa rarely seems to play well in Minneapolis, and while Iowa did sweep Indiana last year, winning in Bloomington is rarely an easy affair.
Iowa wraps up the regular season with home games in three of their final five contests, welcoming Ohio State, Penn State, and Purdue. There's also a trip to East Lansing, typically a house of Hawkeye horrors, squeezed in there, as well as a regular season finale at Illinois.
Iowa's schedule does have four games against sub-290 KenPom teams (based on last year's rankings), but that's fewer than it's featured in recent years and, overall, the non-conference schedule seems notably strengthened from years past.
- If you're the advance planning type, almost half of Iowa's home games (7 of 16) are on a weekend this year. They have four games on Fridays (11/8: SIU Edwardsville, 11/15: Oral Roberts, 1/10: Maryland, 1/17: Michigan), two games on Saturdays (2/8: Nebraska, 2/29: Penn State), and three games on Sundays (11/24: Cal Poly, 12/29: Kennesaw State, 2/2: Illinois).
Thoughts? Excited? Concerned? Let's hear 'em.