Head Coach: Fran McCaffery
Tenure at Iowa: 12th year
Career coaching record: 242-162
Home court: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
Starters: G Ahron Ulis, G Tony Perkins, F Patrick McCaffery, F Kris Murray, F Filip Rabraca
Bench: G Connor McCaffery, F Payton Sandfort, G Dasonte Bowen, F Josh Ogundele
Overview: Head coach Fran McCaffery and Iowa finished fourth in the Big Ten last year with a conference record of 12-8 while going 26-10 overall. This landed the team a fifth-seeded spot at the Big Dance this past March. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, they were upset by No. 12 seed Richmond in the first round, cutting their promising season short.
This year, the team is looking to replicate the winning ways of last season, minus the heartbreaking defeat during March, but that will be tough. Last season, the Hawkeyes were equipped with this year’s fourth-overall NBA draft pick, Keegan Murray. The loss of Murray hurts the team in many different aspects, as he contributed 23.5 points per game for the Iowa squad to go along with a solid 8.7 rebounds. In addition to the loss of Murray, the Hawkeyes also lost senior guard Jordan Bohannon, who currently holds the school record for the most made 3-pointers, the most assists and the highest free throw percentage. Losing an impactful senior like Bohannon and a second-year star like Murray hurts, but unlike a lot of other powerhouse college basketball programs around the country, Iowa has retained most of their players from last season and will have experience throughout their rotational unit, which includes two of McCaffery’s sons, Connor and Patrick. Patrick, the younger of the two, put up 10.5 points per game on 42.2% shooting in his sophomore season last year. Expect the 12th-year coach to make his middle son a focal point of the Hawkeyes’ scoring attack this season.
Team ceiling: The best situation for Iowa involves using their experience from last season to climb to the top of the Big Ten this season. Because they are one of the better teams in the conference, they shouldn’t have too many tiring games throughout the season that throw them off track. If McCaffery’s squad is able to refrain from losing more than three or four games in Big Ten play, expect them to get a high seed for March and go deep into the tournament.
Team floor: The biggest obstacle for Iowa this season will be the ability to both stay focused and stay healthy. Injuries are inevitable in sports and the reduction of injuries is something that every championship contender will need if they want to remain one. But specifically for Iowa, retaining a high level of focus throughout the year is even more important and could be a challenge. If the boys in Iowa City don’t stay locked in, they could fall victim to the relative lack of competition in the Big Ten and lose games they shouldn’t, in addition to getting knocked out early in March like they did last year. The Hawkeyes will most likely not fall out of the top 25 at any point during the season, but whether they end the year as the fifth-ranked team or 25th-ranked team depends entirely on their health and staying sharp throughout.
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