Round of 32 exit

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

Under head coach Fran McCaffery, Iowa men’s basketball has made it to the NCAA Tournament five times. In each of their last four NCAA tourney appearances, the Hawkeyes have been bounced in the Round of 32.

Iowa has drawn difficult second-round opponents like Gonzaga, Villanova, and Tennessee recently. The Hawkeyes have struggled against these teams because they simply lack the defensive prowess to compete with them.

Last season, the Hawkeyes had consensus national player of the year Luka Garza and NBA Draft pick Joe Wieskamp on their roster. Iowa was an NCAA Tournament two seed, and it still couldn’t get past the Round of 32.

The 2021-22 Hawkeyes appear to be on a path similar to the one they traveled in 2020-21.

Iowa has beaten the Big Ten’s bottom and middling teams like Minnesota, Indiana, and Maryland. But the Hawkeyes have failed to beat any top-tier opponents.

Iowa is 0-3 against AP Top 25 foes this year. In games against ranked competition, the Hawkeyes’ slimmest margin of defeat is seven. The Hawkeyes lost to No. 6 Purdue, 77-70, in West Lafayette, Indiana, on Dec. 3.

Iowa has also suffered 20 and nine-point losses to No. 23 Iowa State and No. 11 Wisconsin, respectively.

If the Hawkeyes are going to make their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1999, they’ll have to find a way to win games against the nation’s best competition.

Odds are, the Hawkeyes will be a middling NCAA Tournament seed, so they’ll probably have to face one of the nation’s 10 best teams in the Round of 32.

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