If the budding tradition over the last few years prior to COVID-19 prove true, then we should be hearing from the Big Ten office in the next month or so announcing the Big Ten Men’s Basketball conference matchups for the season. While the actual conference schedule itself will not be released until August at the earliest in non-pandemic years, the matchups are helpful to get an initial gauge on how a season should go.
While these used to be somewhat difficult to predict year-in and year-out, the move to a 20-game conference schedule with protected in-state rivalries has made it much easier. As a result, the Huskers play three teams at home, three teams away, and seven teams round-robin every season. One opponent is a locked rival for a two year cycle in the quadrangle of hate (Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota) before it moves on to another, while everyone else rotates evenly over a three year cycle.
As a result, we should be able to predict who will be on the docket this year and where. This also, of course, relies on COVID-19 impacts such as the games in Lincoln against Purdue and Maryland that were canceled and changed venues respectively being ignored for the purposes of future schedules.
2021-2022 Big Ten Basketball Pairings Prediction
- Home: Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota
- Away: Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue
- Home/Away: Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State, Rutgers, and Wisconsin
Wisconsin flipped with Iowa last season as the new rotating rivalry game. It will likely flip to Minnesota for a two-year cycle in 2022-2024 before rotating back to Iowa again. This process repeats on the eastern end of the Big Ten with Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, and Rutgers. The Michigan State-Michigan, Indiana-Purdue, and Northwestern-Illinois remain set year-in and year-out.
The single plays this upcoming season will likely all just flip venues from the schedule two years ago, while the round-robin series will all be the single plays from last year’s schedule with Wisconsin remaining.
As for how to gauge the toughness of this schedule, it is still too early to say. Home games against an Illinois squad losing a lot of its star talent from last season doesn’t hurt, Maryland is a bit of a question mark, and Minnesota seems to be in total rebuild after firing their head coach.
Michigan State and Purdue on the road are brutal most years, but a trip to Penn State is appealing as they were one of the few wins last year for Nebraska and feature another regime change.
As for round-robins? Michigan looks to be a mostly new roster but have a lot of lethal seeming young talent. Ohio State and Rutgers are not great to have to play twice, while Indiana is also the third team in rebuild mode with a new head coach. Iowa is going to look different and not nearly as lethal without Luka Garza, but is still returning a number of offensive threats. Wisconsin will have a lot of new faces, but is never a picnic. Finally, Northwestern is perhaps the one slim breathing point on the list, but has beat the Huskers all three of their last meetings the past two seasons.
At any rate, there you have it for what the 2021-22 schedule pairings are likely to be. What do you think about the likely matchups?