Tonight the Iowa Hawkeyes meet the Texas Longhorns in the semifinals of the CBE Classic in Kansas City. Consider the opposition:
- Ranked #3 in the coach’s poll.
- Ranked #3 in the writer’s poll.
- Magazines suggest this team is the best and most complete roster in the Rick Barnes era.
- Four returning starters.
- Nine returning players.
- Damion James.
Not since a rag tag group of American college and fringe professional hockey players played the Soviet Union’s greatest of great hockey teams, a team so feared the NHL refused to schedule exhibitions with them, has the sporting world seen such a lopsided match-up. But, this is sport and you have to play the game.
Great moments are born from great opportunity. And that's what you have here tonight.
Texas coach Rick Barnes is so stacked with elite basketball talent he can’t find enough court time for them all. Meanwhile, Iowa coach Todd Lickliter is in search of a team or anyone who can make a free throw, hit an open shot, make an open pass. On the surface this contest should be cancelled, to promote good sportsmanship and for the good of the game. But, you have to play the game.
The odds are very, very long. Texas has won their previous two games by an average of 39.5 points, beating UC-Irvine and Western Carolina—both of whom would maybe be favored against Iowa. Texas has played all 11 players in both games. Vegas has listed Texas as 15.5-point favorites for the game, and that line will go up by game time. Iowa did travel to Kansas City though, and they did take their uniforms and players. So, they will play the game.
Does Iowa have a chance? Did the U.S. Hockey team have a chance, on that cold February night in 1980? The answer is no and no. But, you have to play the game.