Three years ago, Iowa met Wichita State in the semifinals of one of those "major schools get a couple of home games against cupcakes, then meet in a neutral-court semifinal" contrivances at the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun (this was the infamous television broadcast where Eric May's dad had gotten a bit too much sun before giving an interview on how awesome the Moon Palace Resort was). Wichita was packed to the gills with big brutes, and they came at Iowa in waves. A front line of 6'8 forward Carl Hall, 6'8 forward Cleanthony Early and 7'0 center Ehimen Orukpe combined for 41 points and 21 rebounds. Iowa's frontcourt -- freshman center Adam Woodbury, sophomore Aaron White and junior Zach McCabe -- had no chance. Melsahn Basabe was undersized against the Shockers. Gabe Olaseni was not yet sentient. It was a 12-point Wichita State win, and it was a bit of a disaster for a team thought to be on the rise.
Three years later, the roles reversed. A Wichita State squad decimated by injuries basically rolled out an overmatched hodgepodge of guards, skinny forwards and guys who would never play for a fully-healthy Shockers program and got trounced by Iowa, 84-61. Senior center Tom Wamukota started, played nine minutes, collected five fouls, and headed for home. Sophomore center Rauno Nurger played his first nine minutes of the season and was one rebound from recording an unprecedented nine trillion stat line. Iowa was able to focus its defensive effort on Ron Baker, Wichita's leading scorer, and a combination of Mike Gesell and a collapsing frontcourt held Baker to just seven points on 2/9 shooting. No Wichita starter finished in double figures. Jarrod Uthoff, who put up 22 points, outscored the entire Wichita starting lineup combined.
There is simply nothing to take away from this game for Iowa. If the Hawkeyes see the Shockers again this March, it will be a completely different team, with Fred Van Vliet at the point, Anton Grady at forward, and Landry Shamet at guard. That's a top 20 team, an NCAA Tournament team at the very least. This team isn't anywhere close to that, and so Iowa gets to record a blowout win over a Top 25 team without having to do much, and the Hawkeyes leave the Magic Kingdom 1-2 but with a better Kenpom ranking than it had before it got there.