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Point/counterpoint: Will the Iowa men’s basketball team win as many Big Ten games as the Football team?

BY DI STAFF | JANUARY 25, 2011 7:10 AM

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YES

With six ranked teams, including the No. 1 team in the country, the Big Ten is one of the best conferences in the nation.

Luckily for Iowa, though, the talent drops off pretty sharply after those top teams. The Hawkeyes won’t defeat Ohio State or Purdue anytime soon, but Sunday’s win over Indiana won’t be the last Big Ten victory of the year.

The Black and Gold play 11 more games, and you can expect the Hawks will win four of them.
One of those wins will come on the road this week. Penn State is better than it was last year, when the Nittany Lions finished last in the conference, but the Hawkeyes are fresh off their first win of 2011, and they will have all the confidence in the world. Win No. 1 will come Wednesday in University Park, Pa.

Win No. 2 will be Iowa’s biggest upset of the year. No. 25 Michigan State has been uncharacteristically shaky this year, losing badly to Syracuse and Texas before being upset by the Nittany Lions on Jan. 8. Carver-Hawkeye Arena should be sold out when Tom Izzo’s squad stops by on Feb. 2 (students get in free), and the Spartans will fall harder than the stock market.

Iowa has won five conference games in the past two years, and three of them have come against Tom Crean and the Hoosiers. It’s no wonder he’s so cranky. The Hawkeyes will win again when the teams clash in Bloomington on Feb. 5.

The Black and Gold’s last opportunity to win will be Feb. 19 at home against Michigan. This one is tricky, though. The Wolverines lost by only four to then-No. 2 Ohio State on Jan. 12, and they forced overtime in a loss to then-No. 3 Kansas on Jan. 9. On the other hand, they were murdered by Indiana. Win No. 4 comes in a tightly contested match in Carver.

— by Seth Roberts

NO

Take a look at the Hawkeyes’ remaining schedule, and it’s pretty clear that they won’t be able to muster another three wins before the season’s end.

I don’t like to hate on any Hawkeye team, but it’s just so easy with this group. They’re slightly less pathetic now that John Lickliter and his coaching-impaired father are gone, but the program still has a long way to go before it’s anywhere near where Tom Davis or even Steve Alford had it.

They might beat Penn State on Wednesday. There’s a decent chance they will sweep the season series with Indiana when they travel to Bloomington on Feb. 5. And they could definitely beat Michigan at home on Feb. 19.

The problem is that all of these games are far from guaranteed. Based on Iowa’s performance over the last few seasons, I’d bet money that they’ll pick up one, maybe two, of three.

The Hawkeyes picked a poor year to try to rebuild. It’s tough to win games in a conference that has six teams in the top 25, and you don’t even have a true center.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Fran McCaffery and I like the fast-paced offense he runs. It’s refreshing to see an Iowa team that can score more than 50 points in a game.

I’d like to see McCaffery’s squad prove me wrong and restore some dignity to this once proud program, but it’s just not feasible based on the strength of the conference.

— by Jon Frank


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