By John Bohnenkamp
Iowa’s men’s basketball schedule was released Wednesday afternoon, a week before the season opener.
The Hawkeyes have 27 games scheduled, including a 20-game Big Ten journey that includes a Christmas Day game at Minnesota.
A look at the noteworthy parts of the schedule:
• Iowa opens with a 3 p.m. game against North Carolina Central at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Nov. 25, followed by a Black Friday game two days later against Southern, a 4 p.m. start. Both games will be telecast on the Big Ten Network.
• The Southern game likely will begin shortly after the end of the football game between Iowa and Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium. That game will start at noon.
• Iowa’s other nonconference home games that have been finalized are a Dec. 8 game against North Carolina as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and a Dec. 13 game against Northern Illinois. Two other games, against Western Illinois and Iowa State, have not had the dates finalized.
• The Hawkeyes will play Gonzaga in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Dec. 19 in a battle of teams in the top five in the Associated Press preseason poll. Gonzaga was No. 1 in the poll, while Iowa was No. 5.
• Iowa opens Big Ten play on Dec. 22 with a home game against Purdue.
Other conference home games are Northwestern (Dec. 29), Minnesota (Jan. 10 or 11), Michigan State (Jan. 14), Indiana (Jan. 21), Nebraska (Jan. 24), Ohio State (Feb. 4), Rutgers (Feb. 10), Penn State (Feb. 21) and Wisconsin (March 7).
Road games are Minnesota (Dec. 25), Rutgers (Jan. 2), Maryland (Jan. 7), Northwestern (Jan. 17 or 18), Illinois (Jan. 29), Indiana (Feb. 7), Michigan State (Feb. 13), Wisconsin (Feb. 18), Ohio State (Feb. 28), and Michigan (March 4).
• The Hawkeyes will play 12 games against teams ranked in the AP preseason Top 25, including 10 in Big Ten play.
• Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, to allow for maximum flexibility in the potential rescheduling of games, this year’s Big Ten schedule was built with two sets of collapsible byes during the weeks of Jan. 18-21 and Jan. 25-28, and the weeks of Feb. 22-25 and March 1-5.
Photo: Iowa guard Joe Toussaint looks to get past Ahron Ulis during the Hawkeyes’ recent scrimmage. (Stephen Mally/hawkeyesports.com)