Details are still light on the 2022-23 schedule for the Hawkeyes as they prepare to enter Year Three of The Caitlin Clark Experience, though we can assume they'll be playing their usual in-state gauntlet of Iowa State, UNI, and Drake, as well as an ACC opponent TBA in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. But we do know more about the Big Ten portion of their schedule.
There be challenges ahead, Hawkeyes. Iowa probably benefited from only playing Maryland and Ohio State once in the regular season last season, but they'll have to face the Terrapins home and away next season. Since their arrival almost a decade ago, the Terrapins are almost always the challenge any Big Ten team has to overcome in order to claim a Big Ten championship. Iowa also draws Indiana and Nebraska double-play opponents and while Iowa went 3-0 against the Hoosiers last year and 2-0 against the Huskers, those games were battles and there was no shortage of ill will when they were done, either. On the other hand, home and away dates with Penn State and Wisconsin should offer opportunities to fill the W side of the ledger.
The home single-play slate -- Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, and Rutgers -- don't offer a lot of reasons for concern, although the Wildcats have been a giant nuisance for the Hawkeyes in recent years, home and away. The departure of Veronica Burton may make them less onerous for Iowa (and Caitlin Clark in particular) to play against, though.
The road single-play slate -- Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State -- offers some difficult road trips (Michigan, Ohio State). Those games could be critical in terms of tiebreakers for a Big Ten championship, or seeding in the Big Ten Tournament.
Despite the disappointing defeat to Creighton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season -- still a terribly bitter way to end last year's magical ride -- Iowa will enter next season with a mountain of hype. They were an absolute flamethrower the last 2-3 weeks of the season (until that Creighton game) and they return everyone of significance from that team. They also added Central Michigan guard Molly Davis as a transfer; she was a three-year starter and All-MAC first team performer who averaged 18.6 ppg and 4.7 apg last year. She may be able to help ease some of the backcourt scoring and ballhandling load on Clark's shoulders.
Expectations are going to be sky high for Iowa in 2022-23 -- they're already slotted at #6 in ESPN's Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings.
Those rankings also offer an illustration of the challenges at hand for Iowa next season-- the Hawkeyes are the highest-ranked Big Ten team in that Top 25, but four other Big Ten teams are ranked, including Indiana (12), Ohio State (15), Maryland (18), and Nebraska (22). In-state rival (and 2022-23 opponent) Iowa State checks in at #10, too.
It's a good bet that Iowa will be a Top 10 team when the official preseason rankings hit later this year. Top 10 team, Big Ten title contender, possible Elite 8/Final Four team -- that's what's on the table for Iowa this season. Time to see how they handle the pressure.