Basketball remains focused on the task at hand


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The Big Ten is arguably the toughest basketball conference in the United States. With so much talent and depth, every game must be approached seriously, forcing teams to always look ahead and prepare for what’s next on the horizon.

The Iowa basketball team is no exception.

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“Every game in the Big Ten is big,” sophomore guard Mike Gesell said. “It’s tough to pick up a win top to bottom. Your next game is always your most important game because it’s the next one.”

With such a tough schedule, the Hawkeyes have found a simple way to win in the Big Ten: Take it one game at a time. By doing so, Iowa has found a way to stay sharp and prepare for the game at hand.

Only once that game is in the books do the Hawks worry about who is next.

Never was this mindset more apparent than after Iowa’s 76-50 victory at Northwestern on Jan. 25.

Coming off of a win that many saw as an afterthought for the No. 10 Hawkeyes, head coach Fran McCaffery was immediately bombarded with questions about the Black and Gold’s home tilt with the Michigan State Spartans in Iowa City on Tuesday, which has potential to be Iowa’s biggest game so far this year.

“For us, it’s no different,” McCaffery said. “You just prepare for the next game. What do you have to do to beat Northwestern, what do you have to do to beat Michigan State? You just have to lock into your game plan.”

This year in college basketball has been one of the most parity-filled to date, especially in the Big Ten.

Northwestern was in the basement of the Big Ten standings when Iowa trounced the Wildcats by 26 on Jan. 9. However, in the time between that first defeat and Iowa victory on Jan. 25, the Wildcats rattled off an impressive streak in which they won three out of four games, including an impressive win at Indiana.

Knowing how fast things can shift has forced Iowa to prepare for every game the same, no matter the opponent.

“We prepare for every game like it’s the same, whether it’s nonconference or conference,” Gesell said. “We just look to get better every day and get ready to play.”

The parity can also go the other way as well. Michigan State was ranked third in the country before rival Michigan defeated the Spartans on Jan. 25, making Iowa’s showdown with them this week all the more interesting.

Regardless of their ranking, the Hawkeye know how much talent Tom Izzo’s squad brings, and they’re mature enough to be able to prepare to play against them in the same way that they would any other opponent.

“It’s still a top-five program with one of the best coaches in the game coaching them, so we’ve just got to come out and be focused,” senior Devyn Marble said.

Always focusing on the task at hand. It’s what has allowed McCaffery’s team to earn some key wins, while at the same time help forget about a few tough losses.

“You always wonder how your team is going to respond to tough situations, and for us, it’s been with amazing maturity,” McCaffery said.

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