The Iowa basketball team’s schedule will be noticeably harder next season starting with the Las Vegas Invitational where they open with a game vs Creighton.
This past season the Iowa basketball team went undefeated in their non-conference schedule, setting the expectations high for the season considering two of those wins came against a ranked Oregon program and a UConn Huskies team that is usually pretty good.
Those two teams ended up significantly underperforming (even if Oregon squeaked into the tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16) however, and the rest of the Iowa basketball team’s non-conference schedule (save for Iowa State) was garbage.
Their non-conference schedule ranked 329th in the nation last year according to KenPom. To be fair, the Iowa basketball team did play in arguably the toughest conference in the nation, and when factoring in those games plus the two NCAA Tournament games, the Hawk’s strength of schedule rose from 329th to 26th.
For a team with expectations to advance far next season (maybe even the Elite 8?), they need to up the competition earlier in the season to show they are for real.
Consider that done.
After the season, Fran made a note about next year’s schedule increasing in difficulty, which was met with joking and mockery from a few Iowa basketball fans, but it’s looking a lot more realistic now.
The Hawks schedule includes the annual matchup with Iowa State plus a rematch against Cincinnati in Chicago next year and whomever the Hawks draw in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge which will likely be a much better draw than this year’s Pitt team.
To open up the season though, the Iowa basketball team will be in Nevada for the Las Vegas Invitational where they will get to play the Creighton Bluejays for the first time in nearly a decade, and if they can win that, they get a matchup against this year’s 2019 National Championship runner-up Texas Tech Raiders.
The Iowa basketball team has taken on Creighton just twice this century and split those games, and although Creighton had a down year this season, they are always a strong opponent that will help raise the Hawks’ non-conference strength of schedule next year.
Expectations for next year are already high for Fran McCaffery’s squad even if they are losing star forward Tyler Cook.
Winning the Las Vegas Invitational by beating Creighton and especially Texas Tech will put the Iowa basketball team on the map as a title contender, immediately.