A gigantic look at Iowa's basketball opponents this year

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April 2, 2014 | 7:55 pm

IOWA CITY — Iowa's men's basketball schedule could have the team headed in a favorable direction next season.

The Hawkeyes played a grueling schedule last year that included 12 postseason teams and eight ranked opponents. The Hawkeyes finished 11-20, the second-most losses in school history, but seven losses were by five points or less.

Of the 24 opponents Iowa is slated to play this year, the Hawkeyes compete against 12 postseason teams from last year, including eight NCAA Tournament teams. But seven of those teams lost their leading scorer from last year. The only team that didn't — Ohio State — lost the Big Ten career in 3-pointers (Jon Diebler) and the school record holder in wins (David Lighty).

Iowa, however, returns 87.1 percent of its scoring from last year and its top three scorers from a year ago. The Hawkeyes play 13 non-conference teams that compiled a 192-225 record. In Big Ten play, Iowa plays four NCAA Tournament teams just once. In fact, the combined Big Ten record of Iowa's 18 opponents (counting the double plays twice and incoming Big Ten team Nebraska) was 161-159 last year and 370-232 overall.

The Hawkeyes lose just center Jarryd Cole from last year's team and pick up a play-making combo guard in Anthony Hubbard, a long-range shooter in Josh Oglesby, a versatile front-court player in Aaron White and an athletic post in Gabe Olaseni. If those players can adequately fill Cole's absence and the returnees make similar strides as last year, it possible Iowa could post the league's top turnaround.

Here's a complete look at each of Iowa's opponents for the 2011-12 season:

BIG TEN DOUBLE-PLAYS

WISCONSIN   (25-9, 13-5)

  • Recent Action vs. Iowa --

    In one of the league's top games last year, the Badgers beat Iowa 62-59 in overtime last year at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Wisconsin has won three straight overall and nine straight in Madison dating to 2001.

  • Who's Back? -- Point guard Jordan Taylor elevated his stature from good to great last season and became the nation's top point guard. He was a second-team All-American last year after averaging 18.1 points and 4.74 assists a game. He led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.83. He scored 39 points at Indiana, the most in a Big Ten road game in 15 years. Sophomore Josh Gasser became the first freshman since Magic Johnson to register a triple-double (the first Badger as well) in a blowout at Northwestern. Red-haired icon Mike Brusewitz also returns after putting up 4.6 points a game.
  • Who's Gone? -- All-Big Ten forward Jon Leuer leaves a void at power forward after averaging 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds a game last year. The Badgers also lose post Keaton Nankivil and combo guard/forward Tim Jarmusz.
  • Who's New? -- Wisconsin signed four 3-star recruits, headlined by Cedar Rapids Jefferson forward Jarrod Uthoff, who averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds to earn Iowa's Mr. Basketball award. Wisconsin also inked guards Traevon Jackson and George Marshall and center Frank Kaminsky. Former Linn-Mar prep Zach Bohannon, brother of former Wisconsin guard Jason Bohannon, will walk on after two years at Air Force.
  • Relating to Iowa -- The recruiting scene between Bo Ryan and Iowa's Fran McCaffery has sizzled from day one. Former Iowa recruit Ben Brust spurned McCaffery when he replaced Todd Lickliter and changed Big Ten legislation to sign with Wisconsin. Ryan then beat Iowa for Uthoff last summer, a body blow for McCaffery with instate recruits. Expect everything about this rivalry to heat up in the coming years -- if Iowa can win some games.
  • Outlook -- Every year media outlets overlook Wisconsin, and every year the Badgers exceed outside expectations and dominate in Madison. In each of Ryan's 10 seasons, the Badgers never have finished lower than fourth in the Big Ten, and he has the best winning percentage in Big Ten history. Last year Wisconsin was 16-0 at Kohl Center and the Badgers are 78-6 under Ryan in Madison. Although the Badgers must replace their front wall, they return a talented back-court tandem in Taylor and Gasser, which should be enough to finish at least fourth.

NORTHWESTERN (20-14, 7-11) 

  • Recent Action vs. Iowa

    -- The Wildcats swept the Hawkeyes last season and have won three straight in Evanston.

  • Who's Back? -- The Wildcats return leading scorer John Shurna (16.6 ppg), one of the Big Ten's most versatile forwards. Shurna, who hit 43.4 percent of his 3-point shots last year, averaged 24.4 points through the first nine games. He then suffered a sprained ankle and a concussion that limited him all season. Northwestern also brings back long-range shooters Drew Crawford, Alex Marcotullio and JerShon Cobb. Overall, seven of the Wildcats' eight leading scorers return from its second-straight 20-win season.
  • Who's Gone? -- Northwestern now has a gaping hole at point guard with the absence of Michael "Juice" Thompson, the Wildcats' all-time leader in assists, game played, games started and minutes played. He averaged 16.3 points a game (ninth in the Big Ten) and finished in the league's top seven in assists, steals, free-throw percentage, 3-pointers made and assist-turnover ratio. On top of his statistics, Thompson was the unquestioned on-court leader.
  • Who's New? -- Northwestern picked up a pair of 3-star guards in Tre Demps and David Sobolewski and also signed 6-8 forward Mike Turner.
  • Relating to Iowa -- The rivalry between the schools seems to escalate in basketball as much as football. Northwestern has won three straight overall, including last year's massacre in Iowa City. The Wildcats hit 10-of-16 3-pointers to start the game and built a 27-point lead in a 19-point Northwestern win. Iowa rallied at Evanston but lost by three.
  • Outlook -- Like in the past, Northwestern's deliberate offensive style and tough defense will keep the Wildcats in some games and help it surprise a few opponents. Shurna and Crawford are among the Big Ten's top 25 players, but for the Wildcats to reach their first NCAA Tournament someone has to fill Thompson's role.

PURDUE (26-8, 14-4)

  • Recent Action vs. Iowa

    -- Iowa upset Boilermakers in Iowa City in March; Purdue has won four straight at West Lafayette

  • Who's Back? -- Purdue returns an experienced back-court in point guard Lewis Jackson, 3-point shooter Ryne Smith and combo guard/forward D.J. Byrd. Jackson, an honorable mention all-Big Ten guard, set the Boilermakers' tempo last year, and Smith thrived as a third/fourth option. Backup guard and diligent defender Kelsey Barlow was suspended in March but remains listed on the team's roster. It's likely he'll return. Purdue could get its biggest lift from forward Robbie Hummel, one of the Big Ten's best players until twice tearing an ACL. Hummel sat out last year and red-shirted. Hummel was a first-team all-Big Ten player as a freshman and a second-team All-American as a junior. If he's healthy and 100 percent, he immediately lifts the Boilermakers to among the league's elite. Sophomore Travis Carroll, who started six games last year, likely will start inside. ... Coach Matt Painter flirted with Missouri this offseason and nearly took the job before Purdue ponied up with a huge raise.
  • Who's Gone? -- No Big Ten team loses more value than Purdue this offseason. JaJuan Johnson, the Big Ten's player of the year, defensive player of the year and leading scorer as well as a first-team All-American, expired his eligibility after averaging 20.5 ppg and 8.6 rpg last year. E'Twaun Moore, who scored 2,136 points in his career, was Purdue's all-time leader in games played, minutes played and 3-pointers, also bolts after earning first-team Big Ten honors. They were the first combination in school history to each score 600 points in a season. Calling their departures a huge loss is an understatement. The Boilermakers also lose backup post Patrick Bade (3 starts) to the football team. ... Purdue also lost assistant coach Paul Lusk, who took over as Missouri State's head coach.
  • Who's New? -- The Boilermakers signed just two players this offseason in 3-star forwards Jacob Lawson and Donnie Hale.
  • Relating to Iowa -- Purdue has scorched Iowa at Mackey Arena by a 23-point average the last three years. The Boilermakers had won a series record eight straight against Iowa before the Hawkeyes shocked them in Iowa City. The loss sent the Boilermakers from a possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament to a No. 3.
  • Outlook -- It's inevitable the Boilermakers will take a step back this season after losing all-time players Johnson and Moore. But Purdue still has a nucleus that will keep them competitive in a rebuilding Big Ten. If Hummel can stay healthy, Purdue will compete among the Big Ten leaders.

INDIANA (12-20, 3-15) 

  • Recent Action vs. Iowa

    -- The Hawkeyes have won three straight and 6 of 7 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and the last two at Bloomington for its only two Big Ten road wins since 2008 .

  • Who's Back? -- Indiana returns its top seven scorers from last year's team. Highly touted guard Maurice Creek, who has missed significant portions of Indiana's last two seasons with injuries, gives it another go. If he's healthy, Indiana's a different team. The Hoosiers also return forward Christian Watford (16 ppg), combo guard Verdell Jones III (12.5 ppg) and point guard Jordan Hulls (11 ppg, 94 assists).
  • Who's Gone? -- Guard Jeremiah Rivers was the only senior last year for the Hoosiers but averaged just 3.8 ppg. Post Bobby Capobianco left the team following the spring semester.
  • Who's New? -- Indiana scored one of the nation's top recruits with 6-11 power forward Cody Zeller of nearby Washington, Ind. Zeller was a Rivals 5-star recruit and ranked fifth nationally regardless of position. The Hoosiers also gained a pair of 3-star forwards in 6-6 Austin Etherington and 6-4 Remy Abell. All three could make an impact right away.
  • Relating to Iowa-- This has the potential to be a burgeoning rivalry resembling the Knight-Olson era in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Indiana Coach Tom Crean twice took swipes at Iowa after the Hawkeyes won at Assembly Hall, touting former Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter's recruiting efforts in assembling Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery's roster. Both Iowa and Indiana are trying to reinvigorate their proud traditions and each school's path to respectability goes over the other. This could get fairly salty this season.
  • Outlook-- The Hoosiers struggled for the third straight season under Crean after the program was left as a deserted wasteland under former coach Kelvin Sampson. But there's hope in Hoosierland with Zeller, a healthy Creek and solid returnees in Watford, Hulls and Jones III. But the pressure is on Crean. If he can't guide Indiana to the postseason next year, I can't imagine Hoosier Nation accepting him for a fifth year.

NEBRASKA (19-13, 7-9 Big 12)

  • Recent Action vs. Iowa

    -- Teams have not played since 1976 and were set to play in Des Moines this year and Omaha next year until Nebraska joined the Big Ten.

  • Who's Back? -- Center Jorge Brian Diaz returns after averaged 10.5 points and 4.4 rebounds a game, but he has severe foot problems caused by misaligned Achilles' tendons, according to the Omaha World-Herald. The Cornhuskers return four other players with significant starting experience -- Toney McCray, Brandon Richardson, Brandon Ubel and Caleb Walker.
  • Who's Gone? -- Nebraska loses all-everything player Lance Jeter, who led the Cornhuskers in scoring (11.7), minutes (30.2), assists (145), steals (57) and free throws. Every other loss is marginal.
  • Who's New? -- Nebraska signed four players, including junior-college All-American combo guard Dylan Talley. The Cornhuskers have three freshmen -- forwards Josiah Moore and David Rivers; guard Corey Hilliard -- while the World-Herald reports Moore is still trying to become eligible.
  • Relating to Iowa -- The schools mostly ignored one another in the past but now find themselves banging into one another for recruits. Anthony Hubbard picked Iowa over Nebraska, and both schools are recruiting border players Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury really hard. Iowa is the only Big Ten state with a contiguous border with Nebraska, and it's likely the schools will compete against one another on an annual basis.
  • Outlook -- It's hard to say. The style differences between the Big 12 and Big Ten are profound. It's an unfamiliar league for Nebraska and the travel is longer. It's going to take time for Nebraska to adjust to Big Ten play.

PENN STATE (19-15, 9-9)

  • Recent Action vs. Iowa

    -- Penn State has won the last four in State College; Iowa has won the last eight in Iowa City.

  • Who's Back? -- Point guard Tim Frazier is the only player with any legitimate experience returning this year. Frazier started 33 games, led the team with 173 assists and scored 6.3 points a game. Only two other players with four combined starts return.
  • Who's Gone? -- The best player in Penn State history, Talor Battle, exhausted his eligibility. He averaged 20.2 points last year, ranks 10th all-time in Big Ten scoring with 2,213 points and was a first-team all-Big Ten pick by the media. The Nittany Lions lose their second-leading scorer in Jeff Brooks (13.1 ppg), third-leading scorer in David Jackson (9.9 ppg) and fifth-leading scorer (Andrew Jones, 6.0 ppg) as well. Those four players were the top rebounders last year. We also can't forget Coach Ed DeChellis, who resigned this summer to take over at Navy. DeChellis coached Penn State for eight seasons and last year took the Nittany Lions to their only NCAA Tournament in his tenure.
  • Who's New? -- Penn State signed five players this offseason across all positions. Forward Ross Travis was sought by several Big Ten schools. Penn State recruited 3-star centers Peter Alexis and Pat Ackerman, plus 3-star guard Trey Lewis. Matt Glover, who was recruited by Iowa and Nebraska, fills a combo guard role for the Nittany Lions. Penn State hired Patrick Chambers to replace DeChellis. Chambers coached Boston University to an NCAA Tournament bid last year. Chambers plans to play uptempo.
  • Relating to Iowa -- Glover likely will gun for the Hawkeyes in their meetings this year. Iowa spurned him on an April trip to Iowa City shortly before receiving a commitment from Anthony Hubbard. Penn State also sought Hubbard and both schools were interested in Travis.
  • Outlook -- This year is basically like starting over again for Penn State. With a new coach and four new starters, the Nittany Lions are in rebuilding mode in a league that typically reloads. It could be a difficult climb this year.

MINNESOTA (17-14, 6-12)

  • Recent Action vs. Iowa

    -- The Gophers have beaten Iowa six straight, their longest winning streak since 1940.

  • Who's Back?-- Incoming senior Trevor Mbakwe was everything the Gophers wanted and needed last year. He led the Big Ten in rebounding (10.5 rpg) and averaged nearly 14 points a game. Ralph Sampson III flirted with turning pro, then wisely decided to stay. Versatile forward Rodney Williams started all but three games last year and guards Austin Hollins and Maverick Ahanmisi each started five.
  • Who's Gone?-- The entire back-court, and it was a good one. Point guard Al Nolen, the league's steals leader as a junior, suffered a broken right foot and missed the final 12 games of the season. Devoe Joseph left the team shortly before Nolen's injury, and the team had no point guard. Coach Tubby Smith then moved shooting guard Blake Hoffarber (who graduated) to point, which ruined both positions. Post Colton Iverson (11 starts) transferred following the season.
  • Who's New?-- The Gophers bring in four 3-star players, including two from junior college. Point guard Julian Welch, from Yuba Community College, is likely to start. Freshmen shooting guards Andre Hollins and Joe Coleman could fight for starting jobs as well. Forward Andre Ingram is a 6-7 forward from Butler County Community College.
  • Relating to Iowa-- The Gophers have handed Iowa three demoralizing losses in the last two years. In 2009-10, Minnesota forced 24 Iowa turnovers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, then blasted the Hawkeyes by 35 points for Iowa's worst defea to Minnesota in 108 years. Last year Iowa led the Gophers by eight points in Iowa City, then Minnesota strangled Iowa's offense in a 62-45 Gopher win.
  • Outlook -- Had Minnesota kept its team healthy and intact last year, it could have won a couple of NCAA Tournament games. Instead, the Gophers lost 10 of their last 11 and went from tourney-bound to the postseason couch. Mbakwe is one of the league's two best post players but beyond him the players are either inexperienced or underachieving. If the guard play doesn't improve, this team could spiral even farther down the Big Ten silo than last season.

BIG TEN SINGLE PLAYS

ILLINOIS (20-14, 9-9) 

  • Game Location

    -- Champaign, Ill.

  • Recent Action vs. Iowa -- The Fighting Illini have beaten Iowa 21 of the last 22 games at Assembly Hall with the Hawkeyes' only win coming in 1999 against a last-place Illinois team. The Illini's overall streak of five straight wins ties an all-time series mark against Iowa.
  • Who's Back? -- Illinois will look completely different from last year. Only one regular starter, guard D. J. Richardson (8.4 ppg) returns, as does part-time starter Brandon Paul. Paul (9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.1 apg) likely will transition into the Illini's top offensive threat this year and may thrive in the scoring role previously held by Demetri McCamey. Sophomore center Meyers Leonard started one game and averaged just over 8 minutes a game but should become a starter.
  • Who's Gone? -- The Fighting Illini lose McCamey, the all-everything guard who also was benched after run-ins with Coach Bruce Weber. McCamey averaged 14.6 points and 6.1 assists a game last year. Top inside trio of Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale and Bill Cole also leave. Combined, the Illini lose 122 starts among those four. Talented freshman Jereme Richmond, who started six games but was suspended from the NCAA Tournament for violating team rules, left for the NBA.
  • Who's New? -- Illinois landed a massive class of six incoming freshmen, including top Chicago recruits (all ranked as Rivals 4-stars) Mike Shaw, Mycheal Henry, Nnanna Eqwu and Tracy Abrams. Illinois also pulled in 3-star players Ibrahima Djimde and Devin Langford.  
  • Relating to Iowa -- The Fighting Illini recently have posed an athletic mismatch for the Hawkeyes. Iowa has won at Assembly Hall only once since 1987 but with the Champaign personnel turnover, it's possible to at least hang at Illinois this year unlike most seasons.
  • Outlook? -- Unpredictable. Neither Paul, Richardson nor Leonard had a primary role last year and with a talented -- yet inexperienced -- class coming in, it's difficult to know how the Illini will mesh on or off the court. Last year was a major disappointment for perhaps the Big Ten's most athletic team so if the chemistry improves, so could the overall record.

MICHIGAN STATE (19-15, 9-9)

  • Game Location

    -- East Lansing, Mich.

  • Recent Action vs. Iowa -- Michigan State has beaten Iowa 16 straight times in East Lansing, dating to 1993. Of the last 12 meetings in East Lansing, only two were decided by single digits. Last year the teams split their regular-season meetings with Iowa winning 72-52 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and the Spartans winning 85-66 at Breslin Center. Michigan State won the Big Ten Tournament opener 66-61.
  • Who's Back? -- Second-leading scorer Draymond Green scored 12.6 points and grabbed 8.6 rebounds a game last year. He's a senior this year. Sophomore Keith Appling (6.4 ppg) started 18 games while part-time starters Delvon Roe and Garrick Sherman also return. Post players Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne should see increases in playing time.
  • Who's Gone? -- Leading scorer and four-year starter Kalin Lucas exits after averaging 17 points a game. He started all 34 games after tearing his Achilles tendon in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Long-time starting wing/forward Durrell Summers also leaves, while talented backup point guard Korie Lucious transferred to Iowa State.
  • Who's New? -- Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo took one of the nation's top prospects in 6-6 forward Branden Dawson, a 5-star recruit from Gary, Ind. The Spartans also signed 4-star guard Dwaun Anderson and 3-star guard Travis Trice and forward Brandan Kearney.
  • Relating to Iowa -- Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery earned his first major win as the Hawkeyes' coach in the 20-point stomping against the Spartans. Michigan State's players later called it "an embarrassment" and pounded Iowa in East Lansing. Iowa had its chance to beat Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament and led by seven points midway through the second half before losing.
  • Outlook? -- Michigan State was the nation's most underachieving team last year after starting with a No. 2 ranking in many polls. The team lacked chemistry, leadership and toughness, a trait usually associated with an Izzo-coached team. Now, with an influx of new talent, the team's mental approach likely will change and send the Spartans back among the Big Ten's elite.

MICHIGAN (21-14, 9-9)

  • Game Location

    -- Carver-Hawkeye Arena

  • Recent Action vs. Iowa -- The teams have played to overtime in Iowa City for three consecutive seasons, with Michigan winning the last two. Michigan has won six straight overall in the series.
  • Who's Back? -- Michigan had no seniors last season. Sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. was a member of the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and averaged 13.9 points a game. He scored double digits in the Wolverines' final 16 games, including 30 at Iowa. Sophomore post Jordan Morgan averaged 9.2 points and senior combo guard Zack Novak led the team in rebounding and averaged 8.9 points. Outside shooter Stu Douglass and power forward Evan Smotrycz also come back.
  • Who's Gone? -- Darius Morris, one of the league's up-and-coming stars, bolted for the NBA following his sophomore season. Morris averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds and nearly 7 assists a game. His departure was a surprise to the Wolverines, who were considered among the top Big Ten teams returning this year.
  • Who's New? -- Carlton Brundidge, a 4-star guard from Southfield, Mich., could fill Morris' spot as an all-everything shooting guard. Michigan also signed 3-star recruits Max Bielfeldt (forward) and guard Trey Burke.
  • Relating to Iowa -- From 2008-2010, the schools played nine times, including three straight seasons to open Big Ten Tournament play.  Had Michigan lost to archrival Michigan State in the regular-season finale, the teams would have played again in the Big Ten Tournament.
  • Outlook? -- The Wolverines came out of nowhere to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament last year, rolling Tennessee in the first round and nearly upsetting top-seed Duke in the second round. Had Morris stayed, Michigan would have threatened Ohio State and Michigan State for Big Ten supremacy this year. It still might, depending on whether Brundidge can replace Morris. Hardaway Jr. could be the league's best scoring threat this year and if Morgan improves, Michigan will be dangerous.

OHIO STATE (34-3, 16-2)

  • Game location

    -- Carver-Hawkeye Arena

  • Recent Action vs. Iowa -- The Buckeyes have won a series-record six straight against the Hawkeyes. Three of those wins came in Iowa City but all were tight games until Ohio State pulled away late.
  • Who's Back?-- Consensus All-American sophomore forward Jared Sullinger returns, which surprised most people who expected him to turn pro. Sullinger, who was the national freshman of the year, had 18 double-doubles last year and averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds a game. Aaron Craft started only once but was a key player as the team's primary point guard. He had nearly 7 points and 5 assists a game and led the Big Ten in steals. Slashing senior scoring guard William Buford and sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas also return.
  • Who's Gone? -- The Buckeyes lost excellent senior role players from last year's squad. Guard David Lighty was a multi-faceted scoring threat, tough defender and the winningest player in Buckeye history (129 wins). Shooting guard Jon Diebler put up the most 3-pointers (374) in Big Ten history. Center Dallas Lauderdale was one of the most feared post defenders in college basketball.
  • Who's New?-- Ohio State's recruiting class should soften the Buckeyes' losses, although maybe not immediately. Ohio State signed four 4-star recruits in center Amir Williams, forwards Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross and point guard Shannon Scott. Forward Trey McDonald was a 3-star recruit. Ross, however, is ineligible to play this year, a big loss for the Buckeyes.
  • Relating to Iowa? -- Iowa scrapped against then No. 2-ranked Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in a five-point loss last year. Iowa freshman Melsahn Basabe (22 points, 13 rebounds) battled Sullinger (24 points, 12 rebounds) to a draw that game.
  • Outlook? -- The Buckeyes once again look like the class of the Big Ten, although the senior losses will hurt a bit. Sullinger might be the nation's best player while Thomas likely will step up from reserve to key contributor. Craft was one of the league's top point guards and Buford is among the most versatile. If the Buckeyes receive valuable production from their freshmen, watch out.

NON-CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN (with dates)

Nov. 11 vs. Chicago State (H)

  • Chicago State was 6-26 last year and lost its best player in Carl Montgomery, who averaged 17.3 points and 8.1 rebounds a game. This is the first game of the Dale Howard Classic, a four-game exempt series honoring Iowa's long-time booster. It's also held the night before Iowa's home football finale, so Hawkeyeland hopes the football crowd checks out Iowa's basketball season opener. Iowa is 3-0 historically against Chicago State with the last meeting in 1997. Iowa has lost its last two season openers.

Nov. 14 vs. North Carolina A&T (H)

  • This is the second game in the Dale Howard Classic and features a team Iowa never has played. North Carolina A&T was 15-17 last year and lost its leading scorer in Thomas Coleman, who averaged 17 points a game.

Nov. 17 vs. Northern Illinois (H)

  • This regular-season game pits Iowa against a school without its top scorer from last year in Xavier Silas, who put up 22 points a night. Northern Illinois has a new coach and has never beaten Iowa in five tries. The Huskies were 9-21 last year.

Nov. 20 vs. Creighton (Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines) 

  • On paper this is Iowa's first serious test, and it's held at a neutral site. The Blue Jays were 23-16 and advanced to the CBI Tournament finals last year. Creighton boasts power forward Doug McDermott, the Missouri Valley Conference freshman of the year. McDermott —like Iowa forward Melsahn Basabe —was invited to try out for the U.S. 19-and-under team. McDermott was one of three freshmen since 2003 — Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony  were the other two — with at least 525 points, 270 rebounds and 40 3-pointers in a season.

  • Iowa is 14-10 historically against Creighton, and this game also is part of the Dale Howard Classic. Nebraska originally was slated as the opponent for this game (with a proposed 2012 return trip to Omaha) but Creighton filled in when the Cornhuskers jumped to the Big Ten. Blue Jays Coach Greg McDermott formerly led Northern Iowa and Iowa State. The teams' last meeting was March 15, 2001 in the NCAA Tournament. Iowa won that game 69-56, its last NCAA Tournament win.

Nov. 23 vs. Campbell (H)

  • In the Dale Howard Classic finale, Iowa faces a team it never has played. The Camels were 12-19 last year and their most impressive win was a 61-54 upset of Auburn. Campbell returns leading scorer Eric Griffin.

Nov. 26 vs. IPFW (H)

  • The Mastadons posted a winning record last year at 18-12 and were competitive in the Summit League. Iowa and IPFW played four common opponents, and the results were comparable. Both teams lost to South Dakota State (IPFW lost three times) and Xavier and pounded SIU-Edwardsville. IPFW also lost to Purdue, while Iowa split with the Boilermakers. Tony Jasick is the team's new head coach, replacing former Indiana alum Dane Fife, who now is an assistant at Michigan State. The teams never have played.

Nov. 29 vs. Clemson (H)

  • Iowa's ACC-Big Ten Challenge opponent is the Hawkeyes' only non-conference opponent to advance to the NCAA Tournament last year. Clemson Coach Brad Brownell was interviewed by Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta and Associate Athletics Director Fred Mims during the team's coaching search in 2010. The Tigers (22-12 last year) lost their top three scorers and incoming freshman Devin Coleman was recruited heavily by Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery last summer. The Hawkeyes have dropped their last five in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, although two of the last three were decided in the final second. Iowa is 2-0 against Clemson.

Dec. 3 vs. Brown (H)

  • The Bears finished 11-17 overall and 4-10 in Ivy League play last year. Sophomore guard Sean McGonagill was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year last year. Iowa owns a 1-0 series advantage.

Dec. 6 at Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls)

  • Northern Iowa generally poses a threat to Iowa in Cedar Falls, where the Panthers have won four of the last five in the series. UNI blasted Iowa 67-50 two years ago, but the Hawkeyes countered last year in Iowa City with a 51-39 win. The Panthers, which advanced to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament quarterfinals, finished with their third straight 20-win season last year. UNI does lose big-game guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe and tough post player Lucas O'Rear. Some of the better UNI players to return are Jake Koch, Johnny Moran and Antonio James. Iowa is 33-8 historically against UNI.

Dec. 9 at Iowa State (Ames)

  • The premium in-state game is held at Hilton Coliseum next year. Iowa State will look completely different with transfers Chris Allen (Michigan State), Chris Babb (Penn State) and Royce White (Minnesota) combining with shooter Scott Christopherson. Iowa historically struggles in Ames, losing four straight at Hilton. The Cyclones ended their own three-game losing streak at Carver-Hawkeye Arena last year in an electric 76-73 game. This likely will be the Hawkeyes' toughest non-conference game. Iowa leads the series 42-22.

Dec. 17 vs. Drake (H)

  • Drake has slid since its historic 2007-08 NCAA Tournament season and finished 13-18 last year. Iowa has won two straight in the series, including 59-52 last year, after dropping three straight. The Bulldogs return talented sophomore Rayvonte Rice, who scored 13.8 points a game last year.  Iowa owns a 55-10 series advantage.

Dec. 19 vs. Central Arkansas (H)

  • Central Arkansas has yet to post a winning record since moving to Division I in 2006 and was 5-24 last year. Former Arkansas All-American and NBA 12-year veteran Corliss Williamson is in his second year as coach. The teams never have played.

Dec. 22 vs. Boise State (H)

  • The Hawkeyes wrap up non-conference play against Boise State, which finished second in the Western Athletic Conference last year. Boise State was 22-13 and competed in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The Broncos lose leading scorer La'Shard Anderson, who averaged 15.1 points, and leading rebounder Daequon Montreal.
            

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