We’re a third of the way done with conference play for the Iowa men’s and women’s basketball campaigns this season; for the men it’s been a season of high high and low lows; for the women its been ... mostly lows.
Even though its only mid-January I think it’s pretty fair to say neither of these squads has much hope making it to their respective NCAA Tourneys barring some Big Ten Tournament heroics. Let’s breakdown some key match-ups for each team for the remainder of the season, and see where that leaves us come March.
So the men’s team pulls off its best win of the year over Purdue, only to follow it up with arguably its worst showing of the Fran McCaffery era in a 89-54 loss to Northwestern. That one hurts. A lot. Like a lot. Iowa could have been tied for second place in the conference with a win in Evanston, but now finds itself tied for fourth with Minnesota.
In the meantime, Maryland, who had seemed to be an afterthought of sorts all season, has climbed its way to the top of the conference. Iowa’s next opponent? The Terps. That game is at home on Thursday, and will be the first time the Hawkeyes will (hopefully) have any sort of student section for the game as classes resume. After Maryland, Iowa has five very winnable games in a row at Illinois, vs. Ohio State, at Rutgers, vs. Nebraska and at Minnesota. If the Hawkeyes want to make any sort of run, now would be the time.
Making a run, however, is contingent on one thing and one thing only: Peter Jok. The senior scored just 4 points in the loss to jNW, and we saw what life is like without him on this team: not pretty. Right now his status is ominously described as a “back injury,” and that’s not great. Have you ever had a back injury? It’s hard to get out of bed with a minor back sore, let alone play a game of basketball. McCaffery is addressing the media later this afternoon, and I’m sure we’ll know more on the Jok situation then.
That being said, Ryan Kriener played pretty well with Jok on the bench, and Iowa’s freshman are making strides every single day. It’s too bad we can’t do more for Jok in his senior year, but the arrow is certainly pointing up for this Iowa squad, and a deep run in the NIT this year may not be out of the question.
We haven’t given much ink to the women’s squad this year, and for that we apologize. We expect to give them some more attention here on out.
The Iowa women’s basketball team is in about the same place as the men’s, tied for sixth in the conference. The Hawkeyes are 2-3 in Big Ten play, with wins over Nebraska and Illinois.
Iowa is led by sophomore forward Megan Gustafson, who is a legitimate threat to make first team all-B1G this year. She’s averaging 17 points and 10 boards a game, and is a catalyst for the Hawkeyes in the paint.
After Gustafson, senior guard Ally Disterhoft is scoring 16 a game and hitting threes at a .362 clip, but that’s sort of it when it comes to scoring. Much like their men’s counterpart, this women’s team is young with Disterhoft being the only senior seeing significant minutes.
Overall, the Big Ten is having a down year, boasting only two ranked teams in Maryland (No. 3) and Ohio State (18) at this time. The Hawkeyes take on a lowly Rutgers squad tonight in New Jersey. That should be an easy win, but who knows.
This team still lacks a signature win, and even though the season is relatively young, time is not on their side if they want to make a postseason run of any sort.