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Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

Iowa women’s basketball wasn’t the Big Ten Conference’s best program last year.

In 2020-21, the Hawkeyes finished the regular season with 20-10 overall and 11-8 conference records. Iowa was the fifth seed in the 2020-21 Big Ten Tournament.

Iowa ultimately placed second in the Big Ten Tournament, losing to Maryland in the league title game. The Hawkeyes made it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.

Iowa came on strong at the end of last year, and all its 2020-21 starters will be back for the 2021-22 season.

Point guard Caitlin Clark led Iowa and the nation in scoring last year, dropping nearly 27 points per game. The Hawkeyes ranked second in the country in scoring offense in 2020-21, racking up about 86 points per game.

Only one thing held the Hawkeyes back in 2020-21: Defense. Iowa surrendered about 80.3 points per game last season.

The Hawkeyes finished their 2020-21 campaign with the worst defense in all of NCAA Division I Women’s College Basketball. Iowa ranked 336th out of 336 Division I teams in scoring defense last year.

The good thing about rock bottom, however, is that there’s only one place left to go: up.

The Hawkeyes have been working to improve their defense since last season ended, per Clark and Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder.

If that hard work pays off, and Iowa’s defense improves, the Hawkeyes could be tough to beat this year.

Even if Iowa’s defense ranks 150th in the country in 2021-22, the Hawkeyes are still likely to win a lot of games.

Last year, St. Bonaventure was rated 150th in the nation in scoring defense. The Bonnies surrendered 64.5 points per game a year ago.

Iowa will win a lot of games in 2021-22 if it maintains its 86 points per game average and starts to hold its opponents to 65 points a contest.

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