It’s Monday and at least one of you decided to read this thing last week so we’re back for another go at it. We had another offseason week with a fair amount of newsy items. But of course, a lot of attention remains on the bombshell of sorts that hit the weekend prior related to athletes at Iowa gambling. We’ll start there and see where this wild time of year takes us.
Say It Ain’t So
Or more accurately, don’t say anything at all. That’s been the approach of everyone at the athletic department. Various capital “J” journalists have been in touch with everyone from Gary Barta to Kirk Ferentz and the uniform answer from everyone out of the University of Iowa seems to be “we don’t know any more than you.”
While that may well be true given this is apparently an ongoing investigation, it’s also frustrating from a fan standpoint. Without information, we’re left with wild speculation and rumors (and maybe some humor).
Kirk Ferentz addresses the gambling investigation at the University of Iowa pic.twitter.com/dLw3SYynZG— Heavens! (@HeavensFX) May 8, 2023
But here’s what we do know as of this writing:
- Per the University of Iowa Office of Strategic Communication, 111 individuals were identified by law enforcement, which notified the UI on May 4th. Of those 111 individuals, 26 are “current student-athletes from baseball, football, men’s basketball, men’s track and field, and men’s wrestling, as well as one full-time employee of the UI Department of Athletics.”
- The 26 individuals across five sports include four baseball players who were held out of the last two weekend series against Ohio State and Michigan State - DH Keaton Anthony, RHP Jacob Henderson, C Ben Tallman and C Gehrig Christensen.
- According to Brett McMurphy of the Action Network, there is no evidence of game fixing or suspicious activity related to Iowa games. That means any involved players should avoid the most serious available punishment from the NCAA - immediate loss of all eligibility.
- Despite no evidence of game fixing or the most serious type of offense, a lengthy suspension is still possible for those involved. Per the Des Moines Register, the second most serious type of offense is anything that involves an NCAA sanctioned event or involves risking $500+. The punishment for such an offense is a suspension spanning the remainder of any current season plus all of the next one. The lowest tier, which appears to be more geared toward things like fantasy football or an NCAA Tournament pool (we’ll set aside the mental gymnastics needed to delineate some of these things for now), comes with 10-50% of a season suspension depending on the amount wagered, up to $500.
For Rick Heller and the Iowa baseball team, the timing of this is borderline disastrous (obviously it’s a self-inflicted wound that should have been avoided by those involved). With just one week of the regular season left, the Hawkeyes need a resolution to the investigation for clarity on what their lineup will look like for what is expected to be their first trip to the NCAA Regionals in more than five years.
For Kirk Ferentz, Fran McCaffery and the Brands Bros, the timing is less important, but some clarity on what happened would no doubt be welcome as those coaches finalize their rosters ahead of the 2023-2024 seasons.
Hoops Double Team
Speaking of hoops and the 2023-2024 season, we got a small schedule update last week, not just for the men but also the women as the Hawkeyes announced a double-header at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The event is set for December 16th with the mend playing Florida A&M and the women playing Cleveland State.
Hawkeye Hoops in Des Moines @IowaWBB & @IowaHoops will play a doubleheader in Wells Fargo Arena on Dec. 16.#Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/97xTalSC9E— The Iowa Hawkeyes (@TheIowaHawkeyes) May 10, 2023
At first glance, I thought I hated the idea. “Why would they pick such miserable opponents for what could be a marquee event?” I thought to myself.
But it makes a ton of sense the more you dig in. For starters, the date. December 16th is the Saturday after finals week. Historically, that’s been a DISASTROUS time for student attendance in Iowa City. A season ago, the Hawkeye men suffered the biggest upset in modern basketball history at the hands of Eastern Illinois in the week that followed finals. So getting out of the mausoleum and into an arena with some fans is a great move.
Beyond the date, the opponents are another reason to take this one “on the road.” Again, these are not stellar teams and historically, that’s meant ticket sales in Carver have been woeful. So spice it up just a bit by moving this to a different venue more accessible to a big population base within driving distance for fans in western Iowa who otherwise might be willing to drive the entire span of the state to see a game once a year. Win-win.
That’s not the only benefit for moving a game against lower level opponents, however. Recall the NCAA’s NET formula treats home games and “neutral” site games differently. The cutoff for a quadrant 3 game is 160 while the cutoff for a neutral site game is 200. Now, there is no guarantee either of these teams gets into the top-200 (Florida A&M was 359 a year ago while Cleveland State, a tournament team in 2022, loses three of their top-4 scorers from a team that finished 69 in the NET), but taking a pay game you should win and placing it on a neutral site that will be anything but neutral gives you a chance at bumping that game up a quadrant in the NET.
So yes, seems like a really good move for both programs and it makes me think they should be doing more of this. I understand the AD doesn’t want to lose all the revenues associated with a true home game, but this seems like an event that could be a win across the board and should be something they look at doing annually.
Big Ten Football Schedule Changes Coming
Sticking with scheduling changes, the Big Ten is apparently close to pulling the plug on the requirement to play a power 5 conference opponent in the out of conference portion of the schedule once USC and UCLA join in 2024. We’ve seen the conference’s scheduling requirements ebb and flow in recent years and this appears to be another turn in that journey.
Big Ten “strongly considering” removing its requirement for league teams to play a Power 5 non-conference team annually, starting in 2024, sources told @ActionNetworkHQ. USC & UCLA join B1G in 2024, same year @CFBPlayoff expands to 12 teams https://t.co/KeQrE2YyWr— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) May 10, 2023
As of now, there has not been an official announcement on the P5 requirement, just like there is no official change to the 9-game schedule. But the conference has yet to release any real details for how things will look once the former PAC-12 members enter from the west. Divisions are likely to die and a move back to 8 conference games has been rumored for some time.
Now it seems the 9-game slate might actually survive with the change now being to the non-conference requirement. Teams have been able to play FCS opponents since 2017, after a one-year ban that was pretty quickly walked back. Now we could see further softening of the non-con as the conference slate gets stronger and stronger.
Notably, 2024 also marks the expansion of the College Football Playoff from 4 teams to 12. While strength of schedule will clearly be a deciding factor, wins and losses have always been the most important piece of the puzzle. Other conferences are also taking a look at their mandates (notably the SEC), though there is no common scheduling criteria across P5 conferences.
What does this mean for the Hawkeyes? As of now, absolutely nothing. Iowa has Iowa State on the schedule through 2027 and there are currently no other non-conference matchup scheduled against other P5 opponents through 2030. But it does open the door a little further for Iowa to potentially look past the Cyclones if their recent run of success under Matt Campbell comes to an end and they trend back toward the program’s historical levels.
Kris Murray and the NBA
Rounding things out this week is some more round ball news as the Iowa Hawkeyes are poised to have a second straight 1st round pick in the NBA Draft. And a second straight 1st round pick named Murray.
A year after Keegan Murray became the highest drafted Hawkeye ever, Iowa is poised to do it in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1970-1971 when John Johnson and Fred Brown went 7th and 6th overall respectively. While Kris is likely not going in the top-10 to make it back-to-back lottery picks like the early 70s, he did get his invite to the NBA Draft Combine last week.
Here is the full combine list, per the NBA. Note that Victor Wembanyama is not participating, with his season still in progress in France. pic.twitter.com/ddPGSkeQFg— Jeremy Woo (@JeremyWoo) May 9, 2023
Murray has been training with his brother and is with the same agency, Priority Sports. All indications are that he will attend the combine, but will not be participating in any of the games, etc. Instead, he’ll have his measurements taken, do his interviews and then workout for scouts at Priority. the combine runs from Monday, May 15th through Sunday the 21st.
Kris is being projected as a first round pick pretty universally and while making the lottery would be a tall order, his ability to knock down perimeter shots after the season Keegan just had (setting the NBA record for 3s by a rookie) could give him an outside shot. Andy Katz seems to think it could happen.
Where do @B1GMBBall stars stand heading into next week's @NBA Combine?@TheAndyKatz shares an insider perspective on where prospects project in the @NBADraft: pic.twitter.com/1HzvhNl6Ca— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) May 11, 2023
The NBA Draft lottery is set for Tuesday, May 16th at 7pm CT. Here’s a quick look at the lottery odd.
Team > Lottery Probability
- Detroit > 14.00%
- Houston >14.00%
- San Antonio > 14.00%
- Charlotte > 12.50%
- Portland > 10.50%
- Orlando > 9.00%
- Indiana > 6.80%
- Washington > 6.70%
- Utah > 4.50%
- Dallas* > 3.00%
- Chicago** > 1.80%
- Oklahoma City > 1.70%
- Toronto > 1.00%
- New Orleans > 0.50%
From there, the order is set as follows:
16. Minnesota (to Utah)
17. Los Angeles Lakers
18. Miami19. Golden State
20. LA Clippers (to Houston)
21. Phoenix (to Brooklyn)
23. New York (to Portland)
26. Cleveland (to Indiana)
27. Denver (to Charlotte via New York and Oklahoma City)
28. Philadelphia (to Utah via Brooklyn)
29. Boston (to Indiana)
30. Milwaukee (to the LA Clippers via Houston)
Having another Murray in Sacramento would sure be fun. The NBA Draft is scheduled for June 22nd. Murray has until June 1st to withdraw his name, though that seems pretty unlikely at this point.