February 19, 2012: Iowa 78, No. 18 Indiana 66
Matt Gatens hit four threes down the stretch (seven for the game total, part of a 30-point showing) as Iowa put this one away, having led by double digits for the last 24 minutes of the game. It was smack-dab in the middle of Gatens' five-game stretch going 27-for-38 from deep, which to this day might be the most amazing hot streak an Iowa player has sustained.
February 23, 2012: Iowa 67, No. 16 Wisconsin 66
It got hairy at the end as Iowa nearly blew a late 11-point lead, but the Hawkeyes earned themselves a court-storming with a wire-to-wire victory over the visiting Badgers four days after the Indiana win. Matt Gatens added to his legacy with 33 points, including seven more three-pointers and two game-clinching free throws.
January 12, 2014: Iowa 84, No. 3 Ohio State 74
The Buckeyes would eventually falter their way to a 10-loss season, but coming into the game they were No. 3 and 15-1, and they held a 53-44 lead midway through the second half. Iowa stormed back in the closing minutes thanks to a ferocious two-man game between Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White.
February 8, 2014: No. 17 Iowa 85, No. 10 Michigan 67
Marble dropped 26 on the Wolverines, who had recently won at Wisconsin and Michigan State and were on their way to a 2 seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Iowa led by as much as 27 before garbage time and dominated every facet of the game.
February 8, 2015: Iowa 71, No. 17 Maryland 55
Iowa welcomed future 3-seed Maryland to its house by opening up leads of 22-3 and 42-17 en route to this laugher.
March 3, 2015: Iowa 77, Indiana 63
Iowa walks into Assembly Hall, White unloads 21 points and the Hoosier faithful boo so lustily that Tom Crean damn near gets himself fired. Good times, good times.
December 29, 2015: Iowa 83, No. 1 Michigan State 70
Yeah, but it was at home. Yeah, but MSU didn't have Denzel Valentine. Yeah, but you shouldn't have stormed the court. Yeah, but wait until Iowa has to do it at the Breslin Center. Don't hear many of those yeah-buts anymore, for some reason.
January 2, 2016: Iowa 70, No. 14 Purdue 63
Iowa erased a 19-point deficit and spoils the return of Rick Mount to Mackey Arena. The noises the horrified Purdue crowd made as Iowa stormed back in the second half were pure magic.
5. December 3, 2014: Iowa 60, No. 12 UNC 55
Iowa looked to be a sacrificial lamb in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge last season, especially with two dispiriting losses coming against Texas and Syracuse in Madison Square Garden two weeks prior. UNC had its own non-conference slip-up with a loss to Butler in the Battle 4 Atlantis, but the Tar Heels had responded by demolishing UCLA and Florida by a combined 33 points in the final two rounds before coming home to Chapel Hill.
The game played out like Rocky IV, insofar as North Carolina is Soviet Russia, Marcus Paige, J.P. Tokoto and Kennedy Meeks all do Commie Steroids and Iowa players train in log cabins. I mean, close enough. Neither team ceded an inch in physicality, and it was Mike Gesell who erased a late deficit and gave Iowa its final lead with a 3-point play on a drive that led to the header picture above, which we will never, ever get tired of.
Okay, to be honest, from a pure basketball perspective this game was a god-forsaken mess, with both teams combining to shoot 7-for-43 from behind the arc and racking up a total of 42 personal fouls. You'd think any game where White and Jarrod Uthoff combined to go 2-for-19 from the field—and on a historic road court, no less—would spell automatic doom, but Iowa grabbed 17 offensive rebounds to keep pace with the Tar Heels. Woodbury said after the game the team might not have won a game like that in years past. No, probably not.
4. March 5, 2011: Iowa 67, No. 6 Purdue 65
Fran McCaffery's first season at Iowa was mostly wretched from a win-loss perspective, but there were glimmers of hope, like a comeback victory at Indiana and taking eventual tourney teams Wisconsin and Michigan to overtime before falling. Still, Iowa was on a six-game losing streak coming into the game, and Purdue was sitting at 25-5 (14-3) with players like JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore and Lewis Jackson all playing their way to All-Big Ten recognition. Purdue had wiped the floor with Iowa in West Lafayette earlier in the season, and there wasn't much reason to expect things would be much different with the Big Ten's best defense set to square off against the worst offense.
What ensued, however, was Jarryd Cole playing out of his mind on Senior Night, dropping 16 and 10 with Bryce Cartwright contributing a 13-7-6 line. Cole and Cartwright harassed Johnson and Jackson into 21 missed shots, and nobody picked up the slack for the Boilermakers. The game was played in a relatively narrow score window, with neither team leading by more than seven and Purdue taking its final lead inside of the five minute mark. Iowa sealed the deal with Cartwright's floater and two free throws by Matt Gatens in the final minute, the Hawkeyes broke their 25-game losing streak to ranked foes (which, yeah), the fans stormed the court and it looked like it just might be fun again to be a basketball fan in Iowa City.
3. March 20, 2015: 7-seed Iowa 83, 10-seed Davidson 52
The Hawkeyes entered the 2015 NCAA Tournament as a 7 seed, their best entry since 2006's 3-seeded team that we really don't need to talk about right now. History wasn't on Iowa's side as it faced an Atlantic-10 school that Was Where Stephen Curry Came From and now boasted a bevy of undersized gunners, and while Davidson had been to the Elite 8 as recently as 2008, Iowa hadn't won a dang tourney game since 2001.
Well, here's the thing: Iowa came into the game with one of the largest lineups in the nation, and Davidson could not adjust to Iowa's perimeter length and wizardry. Aaron White was utterly unguardable, pouring in 26 points in the game, including a surreal stretch where he scored 16 of Iowa's 18-3 run that effectively sealed the game—but from an Iowa fan ego standpoint, that might be where the game only started to catapult itself into the stratosphere.
Beginning with White's spree, Iowa finished the game on a 39-14 run, utterly demoralizing the Wildcats in the process. The Hawkeyes had gone from a team that hadn't won an NCAA Tournament game in over a decade to one that flat-out made its opponent quit, registering the program's largest NCAA Tourney victory ever, finally besting its 82-53 first-round win over Penn State in 1955. Sixty years (and 27 March Madness wins) of history, and the Hawkeyes eclipsed that level of dominance that one magical day.
2. December 31, 2011: Iowa 72, No. 11 Wisconsin 65
The first inkling that Iowa's teams under Fran McCaffery might have some serious backbone on the road, a quality missing from the team for longer than anyone would care to mention, came one frigid New Year's Eve when lowly Iowa waltzed into the Kohl Center and shocked the then-No. 11 Badgers. This was an upset of massive proportions; not only did Iowa come into the game with a 1.7% chance of winning, according to Ken Pomeroy ($), but the Badgers led 38-31 early in the second half before freshman forward Aaron White erupted, scoring 16 of his 18 points in the second half and sparking a 33-14 run (on what was then one of the most inhospitable road courts in the nation) to give the Hawkeyes a lead they would not relinquish.
Iowa would later complete the unlikely season sweep over the mighty Badgers with a thrilling home victory, but the stunning win in Madison gave Wisconsin its worst home B1G loss since 2006 and, as it turns out, helped the Hawkeyes eke into NIT eligibility as they finished precisely one game over .500. That started Iowa on an upward postseason trajectory that has not stopped yet, and if we had to guess won't cease this year either.
1. January 14, 2016: No. 16 Iowa 76, No. 4 Michigan State 59
Barring something horrendous happening to either team in the second half of the season, this is going to go down as a historic win. Michigan State was in the Top 5, a putative 1 seed, on its home court, finally at full strength with its All-American back in the lineup and both 1) aware of Iowa's strength and 2) determined to exact its revenge for wounds still fresh.
So Iowa merely laid waste to Sparty, again, exorcising over 20 years' worth of demons in East Lansing in the process. It's the first time in 60 years any team has beaten the same Top 5 opponent by double digits twice in the regular season, and now it's Iowa who has the lofty expectations for what may come next.
The Hawkeyes have not so thoroughly dominated such a great team on its home floor in such a fashion since... lord, who even knows when? They might not do so again for years, though we'd like to believe Maryland is the next contestant on Catch A Beatdown. But regardless of what happens the rest of the season, we'll have this game, probably the greatest 40 minutes of Iowa basketball in a long, long, long time.