Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

This Saturday’s Iowa-Gonzaga game at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, may end up being the game of the year in college basketball. According to the Associated Press Poll, Gonzaga is the nation’s best team, while Iowa is ranked third.

With an upset win, Iowa could be vaulted to No. 1 in the country. However, the task that lies ahead for the Hawkeyes is a tall one. Gonzaga is 3-0 on the year with wins over Kansas, Auburn, and West Virginia.

The Bulldogs’ résumé is doubtlessly impressive, but that doesn’t mean they will win the game. Gonzaga comes into its matchup with Iowa fresh off a 14-day pause of basketball activities. In fact, prior to Monday, the Bulldogs hadn’t practiced at all. In total, Gonzaga will have just four days of practice after 14 days off to prepare for and get in shape to play the Hawkeyes.

While Gonzaga has been paused, Iowa has been playing. On the season, Iowa is 6-0, boasting a 32-point average margin of victory. The Hawkeyes even have a 13-point win over No. 22 North Carolina to their names.

So far, Iowa has done what is expected of a top-five team and blown past each of their first six opponents – winning every game by double figures.

The Hawkeyes also have something that no other team in the country does – a reigning National Player and Big Ten Player of the Year. Through six games, senior center Luka Garza has lived up the Preseason National Player of the Year hype he received, averaging 29.2 points and nine rebounds per game.

Garza isn’t the only weapon Iowa has either. The Hawkeyes’ roster is littered with scorers like guards Joe Wieskamp, Jordan Bohannon, and C.J. Fredrick. Iowa’s depth goes beyond the starting lineup too, with scoring threats like guard Joe Toussaint and forwards Jack Nunge and Patrick McCaffery coming off the bench.

I expect Iowa’s ability to score the basketball and depth off the bench to put them over the top on Saturday. Expect the Hawkeyes to win a close battle and stake their claim for No. 1 in the nation when the dust settles.