Good news, everyone. Iowa gets to take on Nebraska Sunday afternoon, coming off some of their best games of the season. Nebraska, meanwhile has been sort of an enigma. The Skers have lost six of their last seven, including losses to Rutgers, Michigan and Ohio State. Their lone win in during that span was over Purdue, so who the hell knows anything?
What we do know, as of now, is that Peter Jok is likely coming back, per Fran McCaffery during a press conference Friday:
Q. What's the timetable on when the medical staff will know if he'll be able to go Sunday?
Probably tomorrow, but I don't know. I think he'll be fine. I think he'll play. I think he'll play well.
He's been diligent with his treatment and rehabilitation, been really smart with what he does with his body.
He'll shoot and do some running. He was in the pool with some no-resistance exercise. He's been really mature with that. I've been very impressed with him. But I expected him to be that way. That's the way he always is.
Q. How will you manage him during the game?
If he's ready to go, I'd play him 38 minutes.
And there you have it. To the chagrin of some fans, it looks like Jok will be playing for the first time in a little over a week. We could quibble over whether or not this team is better with him in the lineup, but I think the general consensus is this: Iowa is better without a severely hampered Jok, but it’s undeniable that this team plays best when a healthy Jok is on the court knocking down threes and creating mismatches. Look no further than the last time we played Nebraska as an example.
Re-acquaint yourself with the Skers
This Nebraska team has changed quite a bit since we last saw them, which might have something to do with their recent skid.
Ed Morrow, who had 9 points and 6 boards against Iowa is out for the year with a foot injury. His replacement, Jordy Tshimanga, had his best game of his career earlier in the week against Michigan State, where he dropped 15 and pulled down 9 boards.
Tai Webster is still the bread and butter of this Nebraska offense; he’s a serious Big Ten Player of the Year Candidate and the only reason this team hasn’t lost all its games this season.
A good storyline to keep your eye on for this Nebraska team is Jack McVeigh. He had a very slow start to the season, but has come of the bench for significant minutes the last three games, and is becoming a three point threat. He had 21 against Purdue, going 4-6 from range.
It will be interesting to see what Fran does with the lineups with Jok back in the mix. It sounds like he’ll return to his starting spot, but what’s that mean for Isaiah Moss, who’s been developing into a good player lately? I think Baer has to keep his starting role, and Pemsl has been great off the bench.
This is a Sunday home game for the Hawkeyes, so I like to think the crowd will be good. Alas, it is also Super Bowl Sunday, and I remember what it’s like to be on a college campus for those. We all know Iowa’s crowds have been less than ideal lately, and I don’t have high hopes for students coming out for this one.
A win here would be big for Iowa, and getting over .500 in conference is a big confidence booster. This is obviously a down year in the Big Ten, if the Hawkeyes could take advantage of that, it sure would be neat, wouldn’t it?