By JOHN BOHNENKAMP
The opening part of Iowa’s men’s basketball schedule got tougher on Thursday when the Big Ten portion was announced.
The Hawkeyes open conference play on December 11 against Wisconsin. That will conclude an eight-game stretch in which the Hawkeyes will play seven opponents from college basketball’s power conferences — Seton Hall (Big East), Clemson (ACC), California (PAC-12) or TCU (Big 12), Georgia Tech (ACC), Duke (ACC), Iowa State (Big 12) and Wisconsin.
The Hawkeyes will play seven Big Ten teams home-and-home — Indiana, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Rutgers and Wisconsin. Iowa’s single-plays in the Big Ten will be Illinois, Maryland and Michigan at home, and Minnesota, Penn State and Purdue on the road.
It is the 13th season for coach Fran McCaffery, who brings back 11 players — including five of their top seven scorers — from last season’s 26-win team that won the Big Ten tournament and played in the NCAA tournament. The Hawkeyes have made three consecutive NCAA tournament trips.
Game times and television assignments will be released at a later date.
Among the other features of the schedule:
- Iowa will open the regular season with three of four games at home, starting with the November 7 game against Bethune-Cookman.
- The Hawkeyes will play back-to-back conference road games four times.
- Iowa has a stretch of four consecutive home games in December — Iowa State, Wisconsin, Southeast Missouri State and Eastern Illinois.
- Iowa has seven weekend home games — three on Saturdays and four on Sundays — including six against Big Ten opponents. The Hawkeyes have games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on a Saturday or Sunday in four of the final six weekends of the regular season.
- Iowa will play at Penn State on New Year’s Day. The Hawkeyes have played on New Year’s Day 10 previous times, most recently in 2017 against Michigan in Iowa City.
- Iowa will play at Minnesota on February 12. It’s the fourth consecutive year the Hawkeyes have played on Super Bowl Sunday.
- Five of Iowa’s final eight conference games will be on the road.
- Iowa will play Truman State in an exhibition on October 31. Former Iowa player Jeff Horner is in his fifth season as Truman State’s head coach.
October 31 — Truman State (exhibition)
November 7 — Bethune-Cookman
November 11 — North Carolina A&T
November 16 — at Seton Hall
November 21 — Omaha
November 25 — vs. Clemson ^
November 26 — vs. California or TCU ^
November 29 — Georgia Tech %
December 6 — vs. Duke ~
December 8 — Iowa State
December 11 — Wisconsin
December 17 — Southeast Missouri State
December 21 — Eastern Illinois
December 29 — at Nebraska
January 1 — at Penn State
January 5 — Indiana
January 8 — at Rutgers
January 12 — Michigan
January 15 — Maryland
January 18 — Northwestern
January 21 — at Ohio State
January 26 — at Michigan State
January 29 — Rutgers
February 4 — Illinois
February 9 — at Purdue
February 12 — at Minnesota
February 16 — Ohio State
February 19 — at Northwestern
February 22 — at Wisconsin
February 25 — Michigan State
February 28 — at Indiana
March 5 — Nebraska
% — ACC/Big Ten Men’s Basketball Challenge
~ — Jimmy V Classic
+ — Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series
^ — Emerald Coast Classic
Photo: Tony Perkins (right) is one of Iowa’s returning starters. (Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com)