And just like that, Iowa basketball’s regular season has come to an end. The Hawkeyes fell in to Illinois in the battle for the double bye, losing 78-76 in Champaign on Sunday.
Iowa almost came back from being down 16 points, but in the end, Iowa was one bucket from sending it to overtime. Luka Garza scored 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He did his usual thing, but wasn’t quite as effective as he typically is earlier in the game. Thigns clicked in the second half, though. But I’m not going to include Garza on this week’s stock watch. Quite frankly, his stock has been on the rise for most (if not all) of the season.
Anyway, the loss to Illinois leaves Iowa with the No. 5 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. I really think Iowa landed in a much favorable half of the bracket. The Hawkeyes will face the winner of Minnesota-Northwestern on Thursday.
Before the action tips off this week, let’s take a look at whose stock is on the rise and on the decline.
Stock up: Connor McCaffery
McCaffery scored 10 points, dished eight assists, grabbed five rebounds, and only committed one turnover in the loss to Illinois. McCaffery also went a perfect 2-for-2 from 3-point range. Since the loss to Michigan State, McCaffery is 6-for-12 from 3-point range. Including the loss to the Spartans, McCaffery has made two 3-pointers in each of his last four games. No, he’s not a deadly shooter, but teams are going to have to start respecting his jump shot. It’s not as bad as people make it out to be.
Stock down: Offensive consistency
Iowa went nearly six minutes without a bucket in the second half of its loss to Illinois. Well, 5 minutes and 46 seconds to be exact.
Iowa can’t afford these sort of offensive lulls late in the season. It was the same story against Michigan State, where Iowa’s offense completely fell apart in crunchtime. While the Hawkeye scoring came together late against Illinois, that roughly six minutes without a basket came back to haunt Iowa.
Stock down: Joe Wieskamp
Wieskamp is in a funk. I feel like I’ve written that pretty much for the past two weeks or so, but it’s still a thing.
Ever since Wieskamp dropped 30 points against Nebraska, shots just haven’t fallen. It’s a combination of two things, in my opinion: defenses locking him down during CJ Fredrick’s absence (and still doing so) and also just missing makeable shots. It’s not as though Wieksamp hasn’t seen a good look since early February.
In his last seven games, Wieskamp averaged 9.3 points per game, 29.7 percent shooting from the field, and 16.7 percent 3-point shooting. In the 24 games prior to that stretch, he averaged 15.4, 45.8, and 38.1 — all significantly better marks. In turn, Iowa’s offense looked much smoother in those first 24 games. Things clicked much more efficiently. A hot-shooting Wieskamp forces defenses out of double teams and makes them defend the perimeter.
Iowa NEEDS this heading into the Big Ten Tournament.
Stock up: Bakari Evelyn
I won’t spend a ton of time on this one, but Evelyn has been great as of late coming off Iowa’s bench. Against Illinois, he drained a clutch 3-pointer late in the game. He scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds.
Ironically, while Wieskamp has disappeared these past seven games, Evelyn’s played some of his best basketball. He averaged 8.4 points per game and made 48.6 percent of his shots, including 36.4 percent of his 3-pointers.
Stock up: Joe Toussaint
Toussaint fit in perfectly with the offense against Illinois. There really weren’t any out of control moments. He shot it when he had space, searched for contact, and attacked the basket. Toussaint scored 14 points and dished two assists in the loss. It was his first time scoring in double figures since scoring 11 against Wisconsin on Jan. 27.
Iowa doesn’t need him to be a score-first player. Realistically, he’s closer to the fifth scoring option out of the starters. But when Iowa can get performances like the 14-point outing against Illinois, it’s an added bonus. He’s a big reason why this game was even manageable to begin with.