This season, MSU will play:
- Iowa twice in a 4-game span.
- Minnesota twice in a 4-game span.
- Purdue twice in a 5-game span.
- Penn State twice in a 5-game span.
I'd love to hear an explanation as to why the Big Ten has made the decision to bunch up home-and-away series this way. In addition to making the repeat match-ups somewhat less exciting for fans, at some point this kind of scheduling will create a significant advantage for someone when a conference title contender gets to play a team missing its star player due to injury twice in a short period of time. (If Evan Turner had returned from his back injury in a more human timeframe, Wisconsin would have avoided playing against him this season. Michigan, meanwhile, won't have to face Jon Leuer this season.)
What was wrong with the old out-and-back conference scheduling format? (Update: SpartanDan notes in the comments that this doesn't work now that you only miss two teams per season. So, instead, what's wrong with an out-and-out format?)
More practically, it's hard to get excited about writing a preview for a game against a team when the recap for the last game with the team is still on your list of "Recent Posts." So we'll keep this short.
Since we last saw the Hawkeyes, they did something remarkable: They won two consecutive games, for just the second time this season. Now, the first of the two games was against Tennessee State, the #10 team in the Ohio Valley Conference. And it was only by 5 points. But they also won a real, live conference game--against Penn State at home, 67-64. Sophomore forward Aaron Fuller was big in both games, scoring a total of 44 points (on just 24 FG attempts) and pulling down 10 rebounds in both games. Mr. Fuller has been playing so well as to get BHGP briefly excited about basketball.
In terms of the Hawkeyes' tempo-free profile, they're still well below average in all offensive respects except 2-point shooting (partly because they don't take many 2-pointers) and their only defensive strengths are rebounding (partly because they never try to run on offense) and not fouling (perhaps because opponents are getting enough easy baskets without having to draw contact). How's that for a list of statistical back-handed compliments?
KenPom predicts a 79-57 MSU win in a 64-possession game. The good news is that MSU should pick up its first series sweep of the season with relative ease tomorrow night. The bad news? No more games against Iowa this season.