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Iowa faces their first stiff(ish) competition in the first round of this year’s tournament

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Iowa
Hopefully Iowa plays well enough so Fran doesn’t join the Cajuns in “ragin’”
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

After three games against significantly lesser competition, the Iowa Hawkeyes open the Cayman Islands Classic against the La.-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns today at 11:00 AM CST.

The game figures to be an up-and-down affair, as both teams are happy to push the ball on on offense. Since Bob Marlin went to Lafayette to be their head basketball coach, his teams have regularly ranked in the top 50 of possessions per game, per KenPom ($). It’s translated to regular season success, as they’ve won 20 games three out of the last four years. As of this writing (Sunday late night), they are ranked 112th by the aforementioned KenPom.

After a loss to Ole Miss, the Ragin’ Cajuns followed it up with two 110+ point outings in wins against Louisiana College and Savannah State. In each of their three games, they’ve had four different leading scorers: Johnathan Stove, P.J. Hardy, and Frank Bartley/Bryce Washington. The former missed the last two games with a foot injury and may be unavailable against the Hawkeyes.

Iowa will also need to be aware of Cedric Russell, who is a blistering 11/15 from three through their season so far. Bartley is their only other player with more than 10 three attempts (5/13).

Though they are a veteran bunch - Russell is the only freshman who’s received minutes and only two sophomores appear to be in the rotation - they will turn the ball over, allow offensive rebounds, and foul. To flip it, they sell out on the offensive glass, as their 41.6% offensive rebounding number rank in 14th in the country.

So, it’s another smaller squad who’s gonna crash the boards and push the pace. Iowa will have advantages, but the team from Lafayette could flip the script and send Fran McCaffery into a rage.

Here’s three questions I’ve got:

  • How do the Hawkeyes react to playing last week’s contest against Grambling State a little too close? They ultimately turned it on in the end using the lineup of Jordan Bohannon, Isaiah Moss, Jack Nunge, Tyler Cook, and Luka Garza, who finished the final 10:53 by a margin of 29-15. However, it would be great if Iowa wasn’t in a position where they needed to expend a significant amount of energy in the first game of three in as many days.
  • Can the Hawkeyes limit second/easy opportunities? When Iowa’s defense has been engaged, it’s looked good. Though this question ties into the first, Iowa is going to need to defend as best as they can so they limit easy looks in transition. Defense includes finishing the possession by coming down with the rebound.
  • Do we see any unique lineups? I’ll admit this is probably something I nerd out with, but Iowa has gone HUGE all season and really avoided the type of lineup where Cook (or even Cordell Pemsl) are manning the center position. Those lineups struggled last year in many of the areas the Ragin’ Cajuns are likely to attack, but I’m not sure Garza is ready for 28 minutes of fast paced basketball. Maybe Nunge gets a shot at center? Or a three guard lineup with Bohannon, Moss, and Brady Ellingson?

Broadcast Information

Opponent: Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (Lafayette, LA // Sun Belt Conference)

Game time: 11:00 AM CST // Monday, November 20, 2017

Location: John Gray Gymnasium // George Town, Cayman Islands


Online: Cayman Islands Website (free for this game only!) // Flohoops ($$$)

Mobile: Flohoops

Radio: Hawkeye Radio Network

Online Listening: HRN