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NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports


If you live in the Midwest, your news cycle this week is as follows:

  1. Let’s fire Fran McCaffery.
  2. It’s colder outside than my ex-girlfriend’s heart. You’ll probably die if you leave your house.

And that’s it! Good news is tough to come by in these parts.

Well, I’m here to tell you that 1. Fran isn’t going anywhere, you know this, I know this, and for better or for worse, we’re stuck with him for probably at least two more years after this and 2. You will not die if you go outside if you’re not an idiot. I think. Don’t listen to me on that, however. Iowa just cancelled classes due to cold for the first time in 10 years. I’m writing this from Chicago, the Miami of the Midwest, where we set trains on fire so they’ll still run in frigid temps:

ANYWAY, you’ve likely arrived at the fact Fran isn’t going anywhere by yourself already (though you wouldn’t know that if you’ve read our comments lately!)

So let’s talk you off the ledge, and get you cheering for this Iowa team. You’ll all be whistling a different tune once Iowa beats Michigan this week mark my words.

But anyone who thinks this one is headed for disaster is caught up in the roller coaster. This team is in a slump, for sure, but there is a point in every season where almost every team in America slumps. This one just happens to be doing in during their most difficult stretch of the season. On one hand, that leaves little likelihood they take advantage of the opportunity to pick up some quality wins. But on the other, they aren’t likely to fall much because of some road losses to decent teams and home losses to great ones.

  • Then there’s the level-headed John Bohenkamp, who reminds us not only that if the season ended right now, Iowa would be dancing, and also: Iowa’s NET is still good!
  • Chad Leistikow thinks he has all the answers to Iowa’s bball woes. He’s got some good ideas. This one is my favorite:

3. Eliminate total bench banishment for a second foul.


Iowa (16-5, 5-5 — NET: 30, SOS: 63): The Watch is not the sports-betting type, and doesn’t even know the spread of Iowa’s home game against Michigan State last week, but whatever the number was, we assume we would have been pretty bullish on the Hawkeyes. When good, somewhat under-the-radar teams with medium-sized fan bases host elite, name-brand schools in conference play, the arbitrage is on. Alas, Michigan State choked the life out of the game, winning 82-67 behind Cassius Winston’s 23-point, seven-assist night, and we’re assuming Iowa backers didn’t cash out. The Hawkeyes then dropped a second straight in Sunday’s high-scoring affair at Minnesota. Despite it all, Iowa’s still extremely likely to go to the tournament, and OK, yes, we mostly just wanted to remind ourselves why we don’t bet on sports. Done and done.

Iowa’s NET has improved since that was published, btw.

The matador defense on the road has to end, or the Hawkeyes will be on the NCAA bubble at best. Minnesota’s 92 points marked the most it had scored in a non-overtime Big Ten game since its 95-89 win in 2014 ... against Iowa.

And that’s kind of it when it comes to men’s hoops chatter. A win against Michigan will temporarily make you all forget about last week.

The Rest

Be nice. Be warm. Go Hawks.