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Men’s golf ranked No. 36

BY NICK VITTORE | SEPTEMBER 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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There are many ways to preview a season, whether through predictions, carefully calculating what needs to happen during each competition to win, or another method.

Another way is to look at similarly ranked teams — both past and present — and provide context based on those numbers.

The Iowa men’s golf team is ranked 36th by the Golf Coaches Association of America heading into the 2014-15 season. Reigning champion Alabama is tied with runner-up Oklahoma State for first place.

The Big Ten’s top ranked team is No. 6 Illinois, the sole conference representative in the top 25, followed by Purdue at No. 35 and Iowa at No. 36. Iowa State is No.  37. The Boilermakers and Hawkeyes are separated by just two votes, while the Hawks and Cyclones are separated by five, 18-13. But the Cyclones finished tied for fourth in their NCAA regional and qualified for the NCAA championships last year, unlike the Hawks. 

The turning point for the Iowa program was 2008-09, where the Hawkeyes returned to the NCAA championships for the first time in 14 years and finished 17th. Iowa has reached that tournament in three of the last six seasons, most recently in 2011.

The 2009-10 team came 1 stroke short of a repeat appearance at NCAAs. The next year, Iowa redeemed itself with the best season in program history, ascending from a preseason rank of No. 35 to finish tied for 10th in the 30-team NCAA championships. Iowa finished tied for fourth place in the 14-team NCAA regional. Since that peak, the Hawkeyes have finished as follows:

• In 2011, they went in 19th and qualified for the NCAA championships, in which they finished tied for 22nd.

• In 2012, their preseason rank was No. 33, and they finished 11th in the Southeast Regional.

• In 2013, the Hawkeyes went into the season ranked 42nd and finished ninth in the 14-team Columbia Regional.

How does Iowa compare with other teams ranked in the mid-30s this year? Last season, Purdue had a much stronger regional performance, finishing third in the NCAA Central Regional. However, the Boilermakers earned a lackluster 27th-place finish at the NCAA championships.

Iowa State qualified for the big dance at the Columbia Regional by a 9-stroke margin. However, the Cyclones finished 25th — five slots from last place.

If this year’s poll is indicative of the region’s strength, Iowa will need to play its best to secure a championship berth. Oklahoma State, Arkansas, LSU, and Virginia are all in Iowa’s NCAA region and each is in the preseason top-25. With the exception of Virginia, each of those schools qualified last year.

The 2014-15 men’s golf season will kick off on Sept. 14 at the Golfweek Conference Challenge in Burlington.  


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