The Big Ten's 2015 football schedule will feature the same match-ups as the 2014 version, but the sites will flip, Big Ten senior associate commissioner Mark Rudner confirmed this week. That means Iowa's four home league games in 2015 are Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota and Maryland. Iowa will play Wisconsin, Nebraska, Indiana and Northwestern on the road.
It will mark the first time in eight years Illinois will play Iowa at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa hasn't faced Wisconsin in Madison since 2009. And playing Minnesota at home ends a streak where the Gophers played host to the Hawkeyes four times over a five-year period.
The Big Ten also won't begin its charge of allowing each football player to play every school in the league at least once in his career until 2016. That's when the league shifts to a nine-game schedule.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told reporters, including myself, that the league will plans to implement parity-based scheduling for non-divisional games, where the best historical teams will face the others more often. That certainly didn't happen in 2014-15, when the only crossover games with even modest appeal is Nebraska-Michigan State and Michigan-Northwestern.
That means in 2016, the first year of its probable eye-popping television contract, some of the made-for-TV non-divisional match-ups could include Nebraska-Ohio State, Wisconsin-Michigan, Iowa-Penn State, Northwestern-Michigan State or some variation of those games. Plus you throw in the regular assortment of solid divisional games, the inventory will be rich for the league's next television partner.
In women's basketball, the league will stick to 16 games even with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland. Each team will play three opponents twice and 10 opponents just once. Iowa women's coach Lisa Bluder said the league is discussing permanent opponents to help protect rivalries, but it's unclear which school would be considered Iowa's geographical rival. Nebraska is the likely choice, but rivalries in women's basketball are somewhat nebulous.
Bluder said right now Purdue and Ohio State are Iowa's primary rivals. But that could change based on a game, recruiting battle or coaching match-up. Both Maryland (with Cedar Rapids native Brenda Frese as coach) and Rutgers (with former Iowa coach C. Vivian Stringer) offer intriguing plots when they face Iowa beginning in 2014-15.