The Iowa Hawkeyes finished with a conference record of 4-14 last year. Fans wanted Fran McCaffery fired after two early conference loses, including a blowout against Michigan State. The Hawkeyes were picked 10th in the preseason media poll. Iowa is now 9-2 in its last 11 Big Ten games, including a pair of insane buzzer beaters in its last two victories. They are the third quickest team to 20 wins in the B1G, and still have a shot at winning the league if everything falls right. It is time to start paying attention to the Hawkeyes for a few reasons.
Defense has Improved
One of the major reasons the Hawkeyes struggled last year was their lack of defensive intensity. It was reported that the team spent almost zero time working on the defensive end of the court during its practice sessions. However, something changed this past offseason after an abysmal performance in the 2017-18 campaign. No, the Hawkeyes aren’t going to look like Virginia out there. However, they don’t need to. They are fully capable of outscoring teams. Iowa has given up an average of 73 points per game this year, but that is almost six points less per game than they allowed in 2017. Coach Fran has also committed to playing different variations of zone defense, which has been a key part in their recent win streak. They also have the ability to press teams when they need to, with the length of Nicholas Baer or Joe Wieskamp out in front.
The Iowa Hawkeyes Offense is Deadly
The Iowa Hawkeyes have one of the best offenses in not only the Big Ten, but in all of college basketball. According to KenPom rankings, the Hawkeyes are eighth in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency. During conference games, they are third. Some teams ahead of them? Duke, Michigan State, and North Carolina. Teams the Hawkeyes are better than? Kentucky, Villanova, and Kansas. The Hawkeyes also get to the free throw line a lot. They are 5th in the country at almost 45 attempts at the charity stripe per game. When you have players such as Tyler Cook and Luka Garza on the block, fouls are going to happen a lot. Speaking of Tyler Cook and Luka Garza, they are two of the best low post players in college basketball that you aren’t paying attention to. Jordan Bohannon is also the best shooter that you aren’t watching.
A Lot of Clutch, and A Little Luck
Every single team needs a player that wants the ball in their hands at the end of games, and the Hawkeyes of no shortage of these types of players. Jordan Bohannon hits a clutch shut every single time he needs to.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, as he is the younger brother of two other D-1 players, Matt (University of Northern Iowa), and Zach (Wisconsin). Both of his brothers scored over 1,000 points in their college basketball career, and Jordan is going to surpass both of them. Another player that isn’t afraid of the spotlight? Freshman Joe Wieskamp. Wieskamp was a top 30 player in this freshman class, but wasn’t noticed by many as he committed to Iowa a few years ago. Joe is rated 76th in offensive rating, and 40th in eFG% in all of college basketball. He is only a freshman. This kid is going to go down as a top three Hawkeye of all time, and you will know his name come March. Oh, and by the way, he hit this shot yesterday.
Sure there is a little bit of luck involved in the Hawkeyes last few wins, but this team just feels different. They are resilient. They refuse to give up. They refuse to lose. Nobody will want to play this team in March. It’s time for the college basketball worl to start giving the Iowa Hawkeyes some attention.