Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

Time to be frank, Iowa hoops fans. Your team isn’t making the NCAA tournament this season. And the worst part is, the Hawkeyes know they aren’t going to be good this year.

Do I actually know that head coach Fran McCaffery and the Hawkeyes truly believe they’re going to struggle this year? No, not really. But there is evidence that suggests that McCaffery and the Hawkeyes know they aren’t going to be good.

Iowa’s nonconference schedule doesn’t feature many good teams. The Hawkeyes will play the mid-majors like Longwood, Kansas City, North Carolina Central, Alabama State, Western Michigan, Portland State, Southeastern Louisiana, Utah State, and Western Illinois to open up the season.

Keep in mind, NCAA Division I programs typically have the luxury of crafting their own nonconference schedules — with a few exceptions. So, Iowa probably opted to play nine cupcake games to start the season intentionally.

To me, it seems like the Hawkeyes don’t believe they’ll be good this season. Iowa’s probably just scheduling bad nonconference teams this season to pick up some easy wins before Big Ten Conference play begins.

The only tough non-Big Ten team Iowa will play this year is No. 25 Virginia. The Hawkeyes are obligated to play the Cavaliers as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

If the Hawkeyes themselves don’t believe they’ll do well this year, then they probably won’t do great.

Iowa also lost almost 55 percent of its total scoring from 2020-21. Center Luka Garza and guard Joe Wieskamp left Iowa for the NBA in the offseason. Guard CJ Fredrick transferred from Iowa to Kentucky in April.

Garza, Fredrick, and Wieskamp all ranked inside the top 11 in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting percentage last season.

With Garza, Fredrick, and Wieskamp gone, I don’t expect the Hawkeyes to have enough firepower to beat many opponents — especially not any good ones.

So, come March, I don’t anticipate the Hawkeyes resume being enough to justify any dancing.

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