IOWA CITY, Iowa – With 16 Big Ten games remaining this season, opportunities abound for Iowa Basketball. Having said that, now would be a good time to take a step.
The Hawkeyes will have had a week off since last Thursday’s horrific loss to now-No. 13 Wisconsin when they host Indiana next Thursday. At 1-3 in the conference, they must start digging the hole.
Iowa (11-4 overall) is tied for ninth with Minnesota and Northwestern. The only teams behind this group are Nebraska (0-5) and Maryland (0-4), the only team in the league beaten by the Hawkeyes.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Iowa secures a berth in the NCAA tournament during the regular season without at least a 10-10 Big Ten rating. Maybe they upset several ranked teams to boost the CV and then run a conference tournament, but it’s a tough road.
The schedule remaining this month offers an opportunity for the Hawkeyes. After Indiana, they face Minnesota on Sunday in Minneapolis, followed by a tough game at Rutgers next week. They end January with a home game with Penn State and host Purdue.
Iowa really doesn’t need to be worse than 4-2 in this streak. And it is doable.
His three conference losses are against Purdue (No.8 NET until the Jan. 9 games), Illinois (10) and Wisconsin (24). It ranks 27 in NET, ahead of Indiana (33), Minnesota (68), Penn State (88) and Rutgers (116).
The Hawkeyes end the season with games in Michigan and Illinois. A home game against Michigan State (15) is also looming on February 22. They can relieve a lot of pressure by avoiding the unmissable wins in these contests.
A race from this team will require a commitment to bounce back. He’s passed, 137-79, in three losses in the Big Ten, including 43-26 in the Wisconsin backhand. Purdue and Illinois rank second and third in rebound margin nationally, respectively, but it’s still brutal.
Iowa likes to come out in transition, but at this point the sample size is big enough, sending five guys to the defensive glass is the game here. You can’t run if you don’t clean the glass anyway. And the Hawkeyes can score in the half court with their talent.
Again, they can overcome the start 1-3. There are no bad losses in this. It is now a question of avoiding them in the next competitions.
It’s moving time.
FLUID FOOTBALL LIST
As you read this review, maybe something has changed with the Iowa Football roster. We’re seeing an unprecedented amount of “student-athlete” movement in sport, and it’s mostly good development as the guys find the best place for them. They do most of the work, after all.
The Hawkeyes have seen changes. The latest example being Cash Dane Belton’s announcement on Saturday that he was leaving for the NFL early. He’s basically occupied that spot for the past three seasons.
Iowa would be a better football team with Belton than without him. However, he has options on the job. The roster includes Kaevon Merriweather, Reggie Bracy, Sebastian Castro, Cooper Dejean, five-star new recruit Xavier Nwankpa and even cornerback Riley Moss.
We’re awaiting announcements from All-American consensus center Tyler Linderbaum, extraordinary returning man Charlie Jones and tight end Sam LaPorta, the team’s leader in receptions. The deadline to declare the NFL Draft is January 17.
The Hawkeyes are working on the transfer portal. Cornell offensive lineman Hunter Nourzad is visiting at the end of the month.
We might also see more guys from Iowa jumping through the portal before class resumes next week.
RUIN TIME AT 125
We learned on New Years Day that Iowa’s wrestling would be without defending three-time national champion Spencer Lee, who had ACL surgery on both knees last week. That left coach Tom Brands with a big decision at 125 pounds.
The Hawkeyes have listed rookie Jesse Ybarra in a red shirt as probable at 125 for last week’s duels against Minnesota and Purdue. Real freshman Drake Ayala ended up being the choice.
Patrick McKee of Minnesota, seventh in the table, edged Ayala, 8-6, on Friday. The Iowa newcomer rebounded Sunday with a 6-1 decision over Purdue’s No.5 Devin Schroeder.
Three-time state champion Fort Dodge (IA) High ended his training career with a 171-3 record. He arrived in Iowa City looking redshirting if Lee had stayed on the mat this season. Now he’s been kicked into action and could play a key role in Iowa as the National Champion.