Analyzing the Big Ten Schedules for Men's and Women's Basketball
Which teams caught breaks? Which face a hard road? And, of course, did either Michigan squad get screwed?
The Big Ten dropped conference basketball schedules for both the men and women yesterday. Since the league is too large for every team to play twice, single plays — and where they take place — can make the difference in close title races.
The men play a 20-game conference schedule, so each team faces seven opponents twice and six once (three home, three away). The women play 18 Big Ten games, so those numbers shift to five double-plays and eight single-plays (four home, four away). I don’t understand why there’s a disparity; feel free to enlighten me in the comments.
Which teams benefit from easier schedules? How did Michigan fare? Let’s dive in, starting on the women’s side.
Big Winner: Michigan State.
Before the schedule release, I believed six teams could contend for a double-bye in the conference tournament and have at least an outside shot at the title. The Spartans weren’t among the six but this schedule could put them in contention for a top-four seed if they figure out a way to replace Nia Clouden’s production.
That’s because only two of the other six contenders, Maryland and Michigan, face MSU twice. The Spartans get Indiana and Iowa, arguably the B1G’s top two teams, at home, and only play Nebraska and Ohio State on the road.
Big Loser: Iowa
The Hawkeyes got about as difficult a schedule as they could considering they can’t play themselves. They don’t get any other contenders in home single-plays, travel to face Michigan, OSU, and MSU, and play three contenders (IU, MD, and NU) twice.
Iowa brings back almost all of their production, headlined by All-American guard Caitlin Clark. They’re the early favorite in the conference. They’ll have to earn back-to-back titles the hard way, though.