Iowa men’s basketball notebook | Hawkeyes building postseason resume

With a win against Rutgers on Wednesday, Iowa would be above .500 in conference play for the first time this season.


Grace Smith

Iowa forward Patrick McCaffery dribbles the ball during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Indiana at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Hoosiers, 83-74.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Defeating Rutgers on Wednesday would push the Iowa men’s basketball team where it hasn’t been yet over the course of the 2021-22 season: above .500 in Big Ten play.

That accomplishment would be the latest addition to Iowa’s postseason resume. Not that 12th-year head coach Fran McCaffery is getting caught up in any projections quite yet.

“I think it’s crazy to look at that stuff right now,” McCaffery said. “It’s senseless. You know what’s coming. We’ve got a ton of monster games coming up. I said it last year, you look at this league from top to bottom, and it was the best it had been since I’ve been here. It might be better this year in terms of strength of teams top to bottom.”

The Hawkeyes lost the first two games of their conference schedule at the beginning of December against Purdue and Illinois — both currently ranked in the top-20 of the Associated Press poll. A little over a month later, Iowa’s 81-71 win over Minnesota at “The Barn” on Sunday evened out the Hawkeyes’ conference record at 3-3.

Iowa has won six of its last seven games, with its only loss in the last month coming against No. 8 Wisconsin in Madison, and has the resume of a postseason-caliber team. Seventeen games into the season, Iowa stands at 13-4 overall. McCaffery’s team is ranked No. 19 in the NET rankings, a tool used as guidance by the selection committee for the NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes are also ranked No. 19 in the rankings and were the first team left out of this week’s AP poll. ESPN bracketology guru Joe Lundardi has Iowa as a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament in his most recent projections.

Rutgers (10-6 overall, 4-2 Big Ten) currently sits at fifth-place in the Big Ten. Like Iowa, the Scarlet Knights overcame a rough patch in their season. Rutgers started the season 4-4 but have won six of its last eight games — including a win over then-No. 1 Purdue. McCaffery attributed part of Rutgers’ early-season struggles to fifth-year guard Geo Baker (averaging 11.2 points and 4.3 assists per game) missing 4.5 games.

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The Scarlet Knights are only ranked No. 116 in the NET, largely because of their slow start to the season. The last time Rutgers was on the floor, it beat Maryland on the road, 70-59. Sharpshooter Ron Harper Jr. connected on all five of his 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 31 points.

“That [NET] formula, there’s a lot of stuff that goes into it,” McCaffery said. “It would seem to me they should be a lot higher than [116th].”

Bohannon feasts at Jersey Mike’s Arena

Iowa’s sixth-year guard Jordan Bohannon has played four games in Piscataway over the course of his Hawkeye career. The former Linn-Mar High School prep will play in his fifth at 7:37 p.m. (CT) on Wednesday at Jersey Mike’s Arena (previously called the RAC) on BTN.

Bohannon is 3-1 against Rutgers in New Jersey and has averaged 17.8 points (while shooting 57.1 percent from 3-point range) and 3.8 assists per game while facing the Scarlet Knights on the road. The program’s all-time leader in games played, 3-pointers, and assists is averaging 15.1 points in seven career games overall against Rutgers, his third-highest point average against a Big Ten team, behind Nebraska (19.3 in six games) and Maryland (15.3 in six games).

Wednesday marks anniversary of Street’s death

Iowa’s game day against Rutgers will also mark the 29th anniversary of beloved Hawkeye Chris Street’s death. Street, a former Iowa men’s basketball player, was killed in an automobile collision on Jan. 19, 1993, during his junior year as a Hawkeye.

“It’s something that we will never forget,” McCaffery said on Tuesday when asked about Street. “We will constantly remind our players. The way we celebrate him at our banquet, the way we celebrate his life at the Chris Street Golf Outing with all the former players coming back, so many community members and all of our players, just remembering how great of a person he was … Chris stood for everything you want in a student athlete. That’s someone we always want our guys to try to emulate.”

Street’s presence remains visible within Iowa’s program to this day. His No. 40 is retired and hangs in the Iowa men’s basketball locker room. Patty and Mike Street, Chris’ parents, still regularly attend Hawkeye games and even went to Iowa City West High School last week to watch McCaffery’s son Jack play.