By JOHN BOHNENKAMP
If Iowa wants to repeat as Big Ten women’s basketball champions, the Hawkeyes will have to pass through the conference’s best teams in the closing weeks of the season.
Seven of Iowa’s final 10 regular season games are scheduled against teams that finished in the Big Ten upper division a year ago, including two games against Indiana, Maryland and Nebraska, and a single game at Ohio State.
The conference announced its women’s basketball schedule on Wednesday.
The Hawkeyes open Big Ten play on December 4 at Wisconsin, then plays host to Minnesota on December 10.
Iowa shared the Big Ten regular-season championship with Ohio State last season, then won the conference tournament.
Among the features of Iowa’s overall schedule:
- Iowa has a stretch of five straight home games in December, facing Iowa State, Minnesota, Northern Iowa, Dartmouth and Purdue.
- Iowa has seven weekend games (three on Saturdays and four on Sundays) this season, including five against Big Ten opponents. The Hawkeyes have home games on a Saturday or Sunday three of the final four weekends of the regular season.
- The Hawkeyes play back-to-back league road games four times.
- Iowa plays at Illinois on New Year’s Day. The last time the Hawkeyes played on New Year’s Day was 2006, also in Champaign against the Illini.
- Iowa opens the season on November 7 against Southern.
Game times and television assignments will be released later.
Fri., Oct. 28 Nebraska-Kearney (exhibition)
Mon., Nov. 7 Southern University
Thurs., Nov. 10 Evansville
Sun., Nov. 13 at Drake
Thurs., Nov. 17 at Kansas State
Sun., Nov. 20 Belmont
Fri., Nov. 25 vs. Oregon State ^
Sat., Nov. 26 vs. Duke/UConn ^
Thurs., Dec. 1 N.C. State %
Sun., Dec. 4 at Wisconsin*
Wed., Dec. 7 Iowa State +
Sat., Dec. 10 Minnesota*
Sun., Dec. 18 Northern Iowa
Wed., Dec. 21 Dartmouth
Thurs., Dec. 29 Purdue*
Sun., Jan. 1 at Illinois *
Sat., Jan. 7 at Michigan*
Wed., Jan. 11 Northwestern*
Sat., Jan. 14 Penn State*
Wed., Jan. 18 at Michigan State*
Mon., Jan. 23 at Ohio State*
Sat., Jan. 28 Nebraska*
Thurs., Feb. 2 Maryland*
Sun., Feb. 5 at Penn State*
Thurs., Feb. 9 at Indiana*
Sun., Feb. 12 Rutgers*
Wed., Feb. 15 Wisconsin*
Sat., Feb. 18 at Nebraska*
Tues., Feb. 21 at Maryland*
Sun., Feb. 26 Indiana*
Wed.-Sun., March 1-5 at Big Ten Tournament (Minneapolis)
^ — Phil Knight Legacy College Basketball Tournament (Portland, Oregon)
% — ACC/Big Ten Women’s Basketball Challenge
+ — Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series
* — Big Ten game
Photo: Iowa’s Caitlin Clark tries to drive in last March’s NCAA tournament game against Creighton. (Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire)