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Breaking Down Iowa Basketball’s 2019-’20 Schedule

What will the Hawkeyes go up against this season?

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Maryland Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes enter the 2019-’20 season needing to replace some important pieces to a team that nearly reached the Sweet Sixteen.

Nicholas Baer, Tyler Cook, Maishe Dailey, and Isaiah Moss departed over the offseason. The tough news extended to returning players too. Senior guard Jordan Bohannon will miss most of the season after an injury over the summer.

Not all is lost though. Sophomore Joe Wieskamp is a stud, coach Fran McCaffery’s son, Patrick, is an incoming four-star recruit, and junior center Luka Garza will be solid underneath. KenPom has them no. 41 in his preseason rankings, and projects them to have a top-10 offense in the country.

Let’s take a look at what Iowa is up against this season and whether they can get back to the NCAA Tournament.

Iowa’s 2019-’20 Schedule

  • 11/4 - Lindsey Wilson College (Ex.)
  • 11/8 - SIUE
  • 11/11 - DePaul
  • 11/15 - Oral Roberts
  • 11/21 - North Florida
  • 11/14 - Cal Poly
  • 11/28 - Texas Tech (Las Vegas, NV)
  • 11/29 - Creighton/San Diego State (Las Vegas, NV)
  • 12/3 - at Syracuse
  • 12/6 - at Michigan
  • 12/9 - Minnesota
  • 12/12 - at Iowa State
  • 12/21 - Cincinnati (Chicago, IL)
  • 12/29 - Kennesaw State
  • 1/4 - Penn State (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1/7 - at Nebraska
  • 1/10 - Maryland
  • 1/14 - at Northwestern
  • 1/17 - Michigan
  • 1/22 - Rutgers
  • 1/27 - Wisconsin
  • 1/30 - at Maryland
  • 2/2 - Illinois
  • 2/5 - at Purdue
  • 2/8 - Nebraska
  • 2/13 - at Indiana
  • 2/16 - at Minnesota
  • 2/20 - Ohio State
  • 2/25 - at Michigan State
  • 2/29 - Penn State
  • 3/3 - Purdue
  • 3/8 - at Illinois

Non-Conference Breakdown

Holiday Season Tournament

The Hawkeyes are participating in the Continental Tires Las Vegas Invitational this season. The event includes teams such as Texas Tech, Creighton, San Diego State, Cal Poly, and Tennessee State amongst others.

Iowa’s first opponent is last year’s runner-up, the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Chris Beard’s team might take a slight dip back this season, but the Red Raiders are still ranked 13th in the AP Top 25 poll to start the season. KenPom has them 15th and T-Rank, 24th.

Expect a tough, physical, and grind-it-out type affair from Texas Tech. The Red Raiders will look to slow down Iowa’s pace and get them into taking bad shots. It will be interesting to see if Iowa can match Texas Tech’s physicality and hang with the Red Raiders.

After this game, Iowa will get a game against Creighton or San Diego State. Creighton projects to have a similar year to the Hawkeyes. The Blue Jays are 35th right now in KenPom and like Iowa, could have a potent offense this season.

The Aztecs are 97th right now in KenPom. That would translate to a solid, quad 2 win for the Hawkeyes.

Gavitt Games

Iowa welcomes the DePaul Blue Raiders for this year’s Gavitt Games. The Blue Raiders project to be last in the Big East this year, but still are near a top-100 team in KenPom and T-Rank.

One player on DePaul Hawkeye fans might remember is former Illini guard Jalen Coleman-Lands. The 6-foot-4 senior projects to be one of DePaul’s best players. Here are some highlights from Coleman-Lands’s freshman season.

This should be a game Iowa wins if they have NCAA tournament aspirations this season.

ACC/Big Ten Challenge

The Hawkeyes travel to the Carrier Dome to take on Syracuse in this year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

The Orange project to be a middle-of-the-pack ACC squad and Iowa will need to contend with Jim Boeheim’s zone defense. Iowa typically doesn’t mind chucking three’s, but with Bohannon most likely out, it will be interesting if they can do this from a high percentage.

T-Rank ranks this as a slight edge towards Syracuse. KenPom puts it at a 60 percent chance the Orange comes through. Winning against Boeheim’s zone in Syracuse is always tough, but this game will be close and competitive. To come out on top, Iowa will need to shut down Syracuse’s 6-foot-6 junior Elijah Hughes. Check out some of his highlights from last season.

Conference Breakdown

Toughest Stretch

  • 1/27 - Wisconsin
  • 1/30 - at Maryland
  • 2/2 - Illinois
  • 2/5 - at Purdue

All in all, Iowa has a pretty manageable conference schedule. They avoid Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin twice, and get the latter two teams at home.

If there is a tough stretch it is this one in late January/early February. The Hawkeyes play four teams in the Big Ten preseason top seven with the road games against two of the top four.

All four teams give Iowa different styles to prepare for as well. Wisconsin will slow you down and play out the pace. Illinois will push the pace and get in your face on defense. Maryland has maybe the best point guard in the league, but also pound it in the paint with Jalen Smith. Purdue wants to launch three’s, motion you to death on offense, and use defense + Mackey Arena to smother you.

If Iowa can hold serve at home, that would be an ideal outcome.

Best Chance For An Upset

Maryland comes to town on Friday, January 10th in an early-season matchup. This will be an excellent chance to protect home court and earn a conference victory over a potential top-10 team.

It will be interesting to see where Iowa is in the season at this point. Will they be looking to ride momentum into an upset of Maryland, or wanting to get back on track with a prime upset opportunity with the Terrapins traveling to Iowa City.

Overall Outlook

The Hawkeyes are a hard team to peg down this season. With Bohannon out for an extended period, I think this is probably an NIT team.

However, there are some non-conference games to build an NCAA Tournament resume. If the Hawkeyes can lean on players like Weiskamp and Garza and get some good news with Bohannon, maybe this is a team that can surprise some people and push for an NCAA Tournament bid. It will be an interesting non-conference schedule with McCaffery molding all of the new pieces into form.