Big Ten Basketball schedule 2013-2014: The single-play winners and losers

USA TODAY Sports

Buckeye fans already knew that they'd only get one shot at Michigan basketball next season. The Big Ten has released the full list of single-play matchups for the league next season. We dig into what that means for the Buckeyes, and other contenders for the league crown.

In case you missed it, we know Ohio State is only getting one crack at four teams in conference play next season. They get Michigan and Northwestern at home, and have single road trips to Indiana and Wisconsin. Only playing Wisconsin in the "Trohl Center" is a tough break, but all things considered, it means Ohio State only has to play one of the likely preseason Top 5 Big Ten squads twice, Michigan State. You could do worse, schedule wise.

The league released the full slate of single play games, which are listed below:

Illinois: Michigan, Purdue, at Northwestern, at Minnesota
Indiana: Ohio State, Iowa, at Purdue, at Minnesota
Iowa: Purdue, Nebraska, at Penn State, at Indiana
Michigan: Northwestern, Penn State, at Ohio State, at Illinois
Michigan State: Nebraska, Minnesota, at Purdue, at Wisconsin
Minnesota: Indiana, Illinois, at Michigan State, at Nebraska
Nebraska: Wisconsin, Minnesota, at Iowa, at Michigan State
Northwestern: Illinois, Penn State, at Ohio State, at Michigan
Ohio State: Michigan, Northwestern, at Wisconsin, at Indiana
Penn State: Iowa, Wisconsin, at Michigan, at Northwestern
Purdue: Indiana, Michigan State, at Illinois, at Iowa
Wisconsin: Ohio State, Michigan State, at Penn State, at Nebraska

So what does this all mean?

First, I have to agree with the BTN's Brett Yarina, this schedule sucks if you're Iowa. The Hawkeyes bring back all the important parts from last year's team which juuuuust missed the NCAAs, and project to be at least a fringe Top 25 team that could be a major conference sleeper. They benefited from a very favorable league schedule last year, but must play Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin twice, and get Indiana only on the road. We don't know a whole lot about Iowa's schedule this year outside of their Big Ten/ACC date with Notre Dame, but I think it's safe to say that RPI won't be the reason they miss the Big Dance this season.

Illinois is another team that didn't get many favors from the schedule slate. While they do get Michigan at home, they have two dates with the other likely top four teams in the league, and only two games with Minnesota and Northwestern (both on the road), two teams that are more likely to struggle. If Illinois is going to return to the NCAAs after losing major contributors to graduation, they'll be doing it the hard way.

So who benefits? Yarina points to Wisconsin, and it's hard to disagree. The Badgers enjoy a home court advantage that stands a cut above even the most formidable courts in a very tough league. Getting Ohio State and Michigan state at home only could give them a leg up come tiebreaker time if Wisconsin finds a way to hang around near the top of the table based on a few 53-49 victories...you know, like they always do.

Another winner may be Purdue, a team that struggled with a very young roster last season, but who will certainly have postseason aspirations beyond the CBI for this year. The Boilermakers get Indiana and Michigan State at home, and their single trip road games (at Illinois, at Iowa) are both potentially winnable. They also get two games against Nebraska, Northwestern, Minnesota, and a substantially less feisty Penn State squad, now that Jermaine Marshall is leaving to play professionally overseas. Purdue could potentially grab 7 of those 8 games, and if they steal a game from a big boy or two, they're right in the mix for an at-large bid.

The other, non-competitive potential implication is that Ohio State's home basketball slate might suck. Perhaps the two premier games on Ohio State's schedule right now, Notre Dame and Marquette, are at neutral sites or on the road. Maryland is the only premier home game we know about, and with Indiana and Wisconsin missing Columbus, the pickings may be a little limited after Michigan and Michigan State. Iowa and Purdue don't quite generate the same level of blood pumping excitement or Q factor, but you never know. Ohio State's out of conference slate isn't totally finalized yet, so there may yet be another gem in there that we don't know about.

Either way, we're an awful long way away from real basketball being played, so handicapping the league at this point is probably just a fool's errand, but it isn't hard to see how the schedule might impact if the Big Ten can add a few extra teams to the NCAA.

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