Earlier today the Hawkeyes released their finalized non-conference schedule for the upcoming 2015-16 season. Iowa is coming off of back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances under Fran McCaffery, losing to Gonzaga in the Round of 32 this past March.
Iowa will tip things off on opening weekend with two home games against Gardner-Webb and Coppin State. The last time the Hawkeyes hosted Gardner-Webb they actually rallied from a 23 point deficit, the largest comeback in program history.
Things will pick up a bit after that with Iowa traveling to Marquette for the Gavitt Games before facing Dayton a week later in Orlando as part of the Advocare Invitational. After that Iowa will face either Notre Dame or Monmouth in the second round and then either Xavier, Alabama, Wichita State or USC in their third game. Next up will be a home game against Florida State in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge, followed by a handful of mid-majors and an interesting trip to rival Iowa State in mid-December.
Overall Iowa's schedule isn't the hardest, but it's not a bad start either. Programs like Marquette and Florida State aren't cupcakes, though both teams struggled considerably last year. Either way there's an advantage to playing power conference teams like Marquette and Florida State over smaller cupcakes. Iowa's involvement in the Advocare Invitational could also lead to a handful of quality opponents as well since they could face off against three teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament in the event. And of course rounding out the schedule will be the road trip to Ames. While the Cyclones will likely suffer due to the departure of head coach Fred Hoiberg, it's still going to be a road game in a hostile environment. Plus Iowa State has won five of the last six and hasn't lost to Iowa in Ames since the 2003 season.
When everything is said and done, while Iowa's schedule isn't the most difficult in the conference, there's quite a number of quality opponents scatted throughout (even more so depending on their draw in the second and third game of the Advocare Invitational) and it should help Fran prepare his team for conference play.
2015-16 Iowa Non-Conference Schedule
- Nov. 13 - Gardner-Webb
- Nov. 15 - Coppin State
- Nov. 19 - at Marquette (Gavitt Games)
- Nov. 26 - Dayton (Advocare Invitational)
- Nov. 27 - Notre Dame / Monmouth
- Nov. 28 - TBD
- Dec. 2 - Florida State (Big Ten / ACC Challenge)
- Dec. 5 - UMKC
- Dec. 7 - Western Illinois
- Dec. 10 - at Iowa State
- Dec. 19 - Drake
- Dec. 22 - Tennessee Tech