Iowa men’s basketball faces high expectations going into 2020-21 season

Oddsmakers love the Hawkeyes, and the team’s deep and talented roster is one of the reasons why.


Nichole Harris

Iowa center Luka Garza attempt to push past Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili during a men’s basketball game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday, February 2, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini 72-65.

Robert Read, Sports Editor

The Iowa men’s basketball team’s 2019-20 season was cut short before postseason play could begin due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hawkeyes have a deep, talented roster returning for the upcoming season.

Expectations are high — as they should be.

Reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Luka Garza is set to break more records as a senior if he decides to pull his name out of the NBA Draft. Sharpshooters Joe Wieskamp and CJ Fredrick will also be back in the starting lineup, along with Connor McCaffery — who led the country in assist-to-turnover ratio last season.

Jordan Bohannon, Jack Nunge, and Patrick McCaffery all missed a large portion of the 2019-20 season and are set to return in the fall. Add in explosive guard Joe Toussaint and five incoming freshmen and Iowa boasts one of the best rotations in the country.

The preseason hype surrounding the Hawkeyes is maybe the most the program has seen.

There are still a lot of questions surrounding the 2020-21 season as the coronavirus remains a concern. Whatever the season ends up looking like, Iowa goes in as a preseason favorite.

10-1 — Bovada sportsbook’s odds on Iowa to win it all

Oddsmakers love Iowa right now.

Bovada has Iowa at 10-1 odds to win the NCAA Tournament, the second-best odds in the country behind Villanova. and have Iowa at 10-1 as well, the fifth-best odds for any team by both outlets. has Iowa at 15-1 odds, the seventh-best odds in the country.

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Six — Preseason AP top 10 rankings in program history

Iowa appears likely to head into the season as a top-10 team in the AP rankings — something the men’s program has only done six times before.

The Hawkeyes were a preseason top-10 team three times under head coach Tom Davis. Each of those three teams ended up making the tournament. The 1986-87 team, which was preseason No. 10 in the country, won 30 games and entered the tournament as a No. 2 seed. The team eventually lost to UNLV in the Elite Eight.

Under three different head coaches — Lute Olson, George Raveling, and Steve Alford — Iowa also entered the regular season as a top-10 team. Out of these three seasons, only Olson’s team in 1981-82 ended up making the tournament.

The highest Iowa has ever been in the AP preseason poll is No. 7. It has happened on two occasions, once under Raveling in 1983-84 and once under Davis in 1988-89.

Zero — Preseason appearances in the AP poll under Fran McCaffery

McCaffery is entering his 11th season as Iowa’s head coach. However, this will be the first time one of his Iowa teams enters a season ranked.

None of McCaffery’s Iowa teams have appeared in the AP preseason poll, yet four of them have made the tournament (it would have been five had the 2020 tournament not been canceled). The 2020-21 Hawkeye team undoubtedly has the highest expectations going into the season out of any team under McCaffery.

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