The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Hawkeyes snare first-place AP poll votes

Iowa forward Ahmad Wagner goes up against Michigan guard Muhammad Ali Abdur-Ranhkman during the Iowa-Michigan game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines, 82-71. (The Daily Iowan/Margaret Kispert)

AP style dictates this number be typed numerically rather than as a word. The number is 11.

That is the number of first-place votes the Hawkeyes received in the AP Poll. That’s more than Oklahoma did and two short of Maryland’s 13. Eleven of those polled think the Iowa men’s basketball team is the best team in the country.

Iowa is ranked ahead of college basketball blue bloods such as Kansas, Michigan State, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Louisville.

Further, three of the coaches’ poll voters, composed of Division 1 coaches from throughout the country, think Iowa is the best team in the country.

The Hawkeyes, ranked No. 4 by AP and No. 5 by the coaches, are arguably the best team in the country. That’s not a typo. At least a few sportswriters and Division 1 coaches think so, too.

That’s good news for Hawkeye fans. The better news, though, Iowa is still a projected No. 1 seed by most of the bracketologists. Most project Iowa to play its tournament-opening weekend in Des Moines.

Tickets are sold out for that event and aren’t cheap on the third-party market. Should the Hawkeyes meet current expectations, the lucky fans with tickets will be in for a treat.

Wagner watch

True freshman Ahmad Wagner has seen consistent playing time for the course of the season.

It’s clear head coach Fran McCaffery has faith in Wagner, who makes up part of Iowa’s legitimate second team, which also includes Nicholas Baer, Brady Ellingson, Dom Uhl, and starter Anthony Clemmons.

Where Wagner excels is rebounding. The true freshman nearly jumps over the backboard every time he crashes the boards.

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And while he averages just 9.8 minutes and 2.4 rebounds per game, those 2.4 rebounds make a difference.

Iowa’s only true center, Adam Woodbury, cannot play the entire game by himself. Woodbury’s backup, Uhl, is better suited to playing the stretch 4, similar to Jarrod Uthoff and Aaron White before him, than the 5.

Where Uhl, a solid 3-point shooter, is less effective, Wagner excels. Even without pulling down rebounds, Wagner creates enough chaos on the glass to make the rebounds harder to snare for the opposition.

The Hawkeyes need a solid rebounder off the bench, and Wagner is proving to be just that.

Two Scores

The bulk of the Iowa men’s basketball team’s points come from two players, Peter Jok and Uthoff.

While it seems a moot point, because Uthoff and Jok are so good, it’s worth discussing the rest of the team.

The praise, deservedly so, has gone to Uthoff and Jok, but the other starters average between 8.4 and 8.9 points per game, meaning just short of three quarters of the Hawkeyes’ points come from starters.

So, to shut down Jok and Uthoff doesn’t render the Hawkeyes completely without help. Woodbury, Mike Gesell, and Clemmons all have shown an ability to score this season.

Then, there’s Baer and Uhl, both of whom are capable of breaking a zone defense with their unique ability to shoot midrange and length to shoot over defenders.

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