Breaking down Iowa’s 2019-20 men’s basketball schedule

Photo: Iowa coach Fran McCaffery will get to coach at The Palestra in Philadelphia this season, one of the interesting games on the Hawkeyes’ 2019-20 schedule, released Friday.

By John Bohnenkamp

There is a trip to Las Vegas.

A trip to Syracuse.

The usual rivalry game in Ames, followed by a neutral-court game in Chicago.

And then a game in one of college basketball’s famous arenas.

Iowa’s 2019-20 men’s basketball schedule features plenty of challenges before the calendar barely flips to January.

A breakdown of the nonconference and Big Ten schedules for the Hawkeyes, who are looking to make back-to-back NCAA Tournament trips.


Date and place — Nov. 8, Carver-Hawkeye Arena

Last year —10-29

2019 NET — 329

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 248-311-318-318-330

What to watch — The Cougars bring back F Brandon Jackson (13.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg), their leading scorer from last season, along with G Tyresse Williford (13.1 ppg) and G Cameron Williams (10.1 ppg)


Date and place — Nov. 11, Carver-Hawkeye Arena

Last year — 19-17

2019 NET — 109

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 150-183-183-99-118

What to watch — The Hawkeyes are back in the Gavitt Games against a Big East team. The Blue Demons return starters Paul Reed (12.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and Devin Gage (9.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.9 apg).


Date and place — Nov. 15, Carver-Hawkeye Arena

Last year — 11-21

2019 NET — 297

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 206-174-236-236-290

What to watch — The Golden Eagles struggled last season, but return F Emmanuel Nzekwesi (14.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and F Kevin Obanor (14.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg).


Date and place — Nov. 21, Carver-Hawkeye Arena

Last year — 16-17

2019 NET — 181

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 143-177-255-282-167

What to watch — The first of two Las Vegas Invitational preliminary games. Senior G/F Garrett Sams (12.5 ppg) is back, along with F Wajid Aminu (11.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and G Ivan Gandia-Rosa (10.5 ppg).


Date and place — Nov. 24, Carver-Hawkeye Arena

Last year — 6-23

2019 NET — 333

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 153-203-306-323-334

What to watch — The second Las Vegas Invitational preliminary game. The Mustangs struggled last season, and lose their top two scorers.


Date and place — Nov. 28, Orleans Arena, Las Vegas

Last year — 31-7

2019 NET — 7

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 155-54-41-11-5

What to watch — Now the schedule gets interesting. The Hawkeyes head to the Las Vegas Invitational, and get the runner-up from last season’s NCAA Tournament. G Davide Moretti (11.5 ppg) is the only starter back for the Red Raiders.


Date and place — Nov. 29, Orleans Arena, Las Vegas

Last year — Creighton 20-15, San Diego State 21-13

2019 NET — Creighton 54, San Diego State 116

KenPom rankings — Creighton 79-40-28-30-55, San Diego State 31-46-78-50-125

What to watch — Creighton returns four of its five top scorers, including G Ty-Shon Alexander (15.7 ppg) and G Mitch Ballock (11.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg). San Diego State loses its two top scorers, but returns F Matt Mitchell (10.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg).


Date and place — Dec. 3, Carrier Dome, Syracuse

Last year — 20-14

2019 NET — 50

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 53-27-55-41-39

What to watch — The Hawkeyes go from Vegas to Syracuse. F Elijah Hughes (13.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg) is back for the Orange.


Date and place — Dec. 12, Hilton Coliseum, Ames

Last year — 23-12

2019 NET — 19

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 16-20-17-103-15

What to watch — Sandwiched between that Syracuse game and this one will be the opening games of the Big Ten season — at Michigan (Dec. 6) and at home vs. Minnesota (Dec. 9). Then the Hawkeyes face their in-state rival, coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance. F Michael Jacobson (11.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is back, and G Tyrese Haliburton (6.8 ppg) has had a big summer.


Date and place — Dec. 21, United Center, Chicago

Last year — 28-7

2019 NET — 24

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 43-32-23-4-29

What to watch — The Hawkeyes traded in the in-state Hy-Vee Classic for a neutral-court rematch against the Bearcats, a team they defeated in the NCAA Tournament last season. G Jarron Cumberland (18.8 ppg), the AAC Player of the Year, returns.


Date and place — Dec. 29, Carver-Hawkeye Arena)

Last year — 6-26

2019 NET — 343

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 341-261-252-309-339

What to watch — The last nonconference game for the Hawkeyes, and only their second December home game. The Owls bring back their two top scorers in G Tyler Hooker (19 ppg) and G Danny Lewis (11 ppg). Kennesaw State went 0-15 in road games last season.


Dec. 6, at Michigan — The Hawkeyes open at Ann Arbor, in new coach Juwan Howard’s first Big Ten home game.

Dec. 9, Minnesota — The home conference opener. The Gophers lose a lot of offense from last season.

Jan. 4, Penn State at The Palestra in Philadelphia — Now it gets fun. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, a Philadelphia native, gets to coach his two sons, Connor and Patrick, in the arena where he played.

Jan. 7, at Nebraska — The third Big Ten road game in the first four games of the conference season, and the Hawkeyes will face new Huskers coach Fred Hoiberg.

Jan. 10, Maryland — The first of two Friday night home games for the Hawkeyes.

Jan. 14, at Northwestern — Another road game. The Hawkeyes swept the Wildcats last season.

Jan. 17, Michigan — The first of three consecutive home games. The Hawkeyes stunned the Wolverines at Carver-Hawkeye Arena last season.

Jan. 22, Rutgers — The Hawkeyes needed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Joe Wieskamp to beat the Scarlet Knights on the road last season, then got beat by 14 points in the home finale.

Jan. 27, Wisconsin — The Badgers swept the Hawkeyes last season.

Jan. 30, at Maryland — The Hawkeyes are back on the road for the first time in 16 days. Iowa lost its only matchup with the Terrapins last season.

Feb. 2, Illinois — Iowa routed the Illini by 24 and 21 points in last season’s matchups, but the second game, at the Big Ten Tournament, was a little chippy. The Illini are better this season.

Feb. 5, at Purdue — The first of two matchups against the Boilermakers. Iowa lost by 16 points at West Lafayette last season.

Feb. 8, Nebraska — Hoiberg comes to Iowa City.

Feb. 13, at Indiana — Iowa swept the Hoosiers last season. The 77-72 victory at Bloomington stood out on the Hawkeyes’ postseason resumé.

Feb. 16, at Minnesota — The Gophers won, 92-87, in Minneapolis last season.

Feb. 20, Ohio State — The only time the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes play, and it comes late in the season.

Feb. 25, at Michigan State — Cassius Winston is back. All you need to know about the Spartans.

Feb. 29, Penn State — The return game against the Nittany Lions.

March 3, Purdue — The return game against the Boilermakers.

March 8, at Illinois — The Hawkeyes go back to Champaign after not playing there last season.

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