Programming note: this is the last one of these until Monday. The whole point is to give the poor souls that are working during the week something to kill time at the office. With apologies to the weekend shifters, here’s our mid-season check-in on the Iowa Hawkeyes.
7-3 (0-1 in B1G play) - Torvik rankings as of Thursday evening (Iowa is #20)
Losses: 10 Duke (N), 37 Wisconsin (H), 55 TCU (N)
Fran stepped out of his comfort zone just a tad this year by scheduling a neutral site game against Duke (which Iowa lost). In addition to Iowa’s first interesting non-conference game in years, the Hawkeyes blew out in-state rival Iowa State and Gavitt Games opponent Seton Hall. A trip to the cowards tournament* called the Emerald Coast Classic resulted in a 1-1 split against uninspiring competition. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes their only quad 1 type wins are Iowa State and Seton Hall. Their ACC challenge opponent was a bad Georgia Tech squad.
*For those wondering, a cowards tournament is an 8 team non-conference tournament divided into two four-team brackets. The cowards bracket plays a home game against the struggling programs bracket and even if they lose they automatically advance to the semifinals. Hence, California advancing to the semifinal of the Emerald Coast Classic despite their loss to Southern.
Things I’ve Liked
Iowa does not turn the ball over on offense very often. They turn it over on less than 1/6 of their possessions. Taking care of the basketball is the first step to having a good offense.
The Hawkeyes play a fast, exciting style of basketball. All college basketball fans rejoice that they are the hare to the proverbial turtle.
Kris Murray has been a pretty good replacement for his twin. In his 8 games, he’s broken 20 points four times and been held to single digits only against Duke.
Things I Haven’t Liked
Playing in a cowards tournament is ... well, cowardly. It’s better than what Indiana and Rutgers did, but not by much.
Fran McCaffery continues to have no self control. Sure, you could say his incoherent, red-faced tantrum against Wisconsin (rated a Francon 2 by the way) inspired the Hawkeyes to tie Wisconsin back up and send the game to overtime. Or you could say that the two free throws that Wisconsin made following the technical turned a three point deficit into a five point deficit and the Hawkeyes lost because of it. Stop trying to have a stroke on the court Fran.
For the sixth year in a row Iowa has a top 20 offense. This is good. It is once again accompanied by a not-top 70 defense. That is bad. Does Iowa football and Iowa basketball think they can only be good at one side of the ball? If so, why did they choose opposite sides of the ball to be good on? Why didn’t they coordinate so they could match like they do with giving their head coaches’ kids positions on the team. At least Fran’s kids seem to know what they are doing.
Kris Murray has foot injury and has missed the last two games. He is expected back for Iowa’s return to B1G play. If Murray misses more time than that, the Hawkeyes could be in trouble.
Tony Perkins missed one game with a thigh injury. He’s looked like his regular self since returning to the lineup.
Ahron Ulis has a hip contusion. His injury is not expected to cause him to miss much time but he did miss the Wisconsin game.
Josh Ogundele has an ankle injury. Ogundele is an important post depth option particularly when the Hawkeyes face off against the giants in the conference. Hopefully he is fully healthy by then. He has missed three games this season but it’s been scattered.
Schedule and What’s Left
Iowa actually played a non-conference schedule with a little bit of a challenge for once. Games against Seton Hall, Duke, Iowa State, Clemson, TCU, and Georgia Tech give them 6 P6 opponents in the non-conference slate. Of course the rest of the schedule was filled with 250+ ranked teams, but baby steps.
Iowa is one of four B1G teams to have played just one conference game so far. As a result they have 19 more B1G games to look forward to. Single plays against Purdue and Illinois are on the docket which is great news if Iowa is serious about making a run for the B1G regular season title and awful news if they are a bubble team in desperation of a resume changing win.
Iowa has two more cupcakes scheduled: Southeast Missouri State and Eastern Illinois. Then they restart the B1G schedule for everybody with a trip to Nebrasketball.
BoilerUp89’s Final Thoughts
Following their easy victory over Seton Hall, I thought Iowa was among the best of the conference and they still might be. But they haven’t really looked the part since then. The loss to TCU really surprised me. The loss to Duke however was understandable and the loss to Wisconsin makes sense in the context that Iowa was without two starters.
Are the Hawkeyes going to be the team that blew out Seton Hall and Iowa State? Or are they the team that barely survived Clemson and lost to TCU? That might just depend on their three point shooting which has varied wildly. In their losses (and close wins against bad teams) Iowa has shot 17.6% (TCU), 18.8% (Duke), 21.1% (Clemson), 27.3% (Wisconsin) from the perimeter. But their season average is 34.1% and they were over 50% against the Cyclones.
When they are making perimeters shots, Iowa is capable of beating anybody in this conference. When they aren’t, Iowa is capable of losing to anybody in this conference. Which is a really weird place to be for a team that doesn’t really shoot all that many three pointers. But without a lockdown defense or an offense that is elite at anything other than not turning it over, Iowa might just be that team.
Assuming Ulis and Murray are back soon (and they should be), Iowa should make the NCAA tournament field fairly easily. Don’t be surprised however if they have a surprising loss or two along the way that stops them from truly competing for the B1G regular season title.
Other Expert Opinions
MaximumSam: Iowa was my preseason pick to win the conference. I’m not exactly selling - losing a tight one at home to Wisconsin is not ideal, but they were also pretty short-handed. But I’m not buying, either. They’ve been a bit inconsistent, especially on their outside shooting. This conference looks like a meat grinder again, and unless they tick that up I’m not sure they can get enough wins.
How many more technical fouls will Fran have this season?
This poll is closed
Is Iowa a serious contender for the B1G title?
This poll is closed
Yes and I won’t explain myself
No and I won’t explain myself
Let me tell you why my team is winning the B1G in the comments
What will be higher?
This poll is closed
The number of comments on this article
5 * the number of NCAA tournament victories by Iowa this year