Iowa men’s basketball ready to face No. 15 Duke at Madison Square Garden as part of Jimmy V Classic

The Hawkeyes and Blue Devils are set to tip off Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery watches action during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and North Carolina A&T at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Aggies, 112-71.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

The Iowa men’s basketball team is preparing for the upcoming Big Ten schedule in a big way. 

As their fourth straight Power Five opponent, the Hawkeyes will take on Duke Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. as part of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 

Iowa and Duke will play in the second and final game of the event after Illinois takes on Texas at 6 p.m. 

This will mark Iowa’s first appearance in the annual doubleheader honoring the late Jim Valvano, who won an NCAA Championship in 1983 as the head coach of the North Carolina State Wolfpack. 

The event raises money and awareness for the V Foundation, named for Valvano, for cancer research. Valvano died of cancer in 1993. 

“I just felt pretty strongly that it was a great opportunity to play in Madison Square Garden to play a team like Duke, to play in an event like that, for our program, for our players, to help us get ready for the Big Ten schedule,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said in a Zoom press conference on Dec. 2. “Yeah, it would have been easy to say no, play somebody else that we felt pretty strongly we would beat and stay rested for the Iowa State game, but [with] opportunities like this, I think you have to take advantage.”

When discussing his involvement with the V Foundation, Fran McCaffery mentioned Dick Vitale, a cancer survivor and well-known ESPN broadcaster who the McCaffery family has formed a relationship with. 

Fran McCaffery’s son and current Hawkeye junior forward Patrick McCaffery is a cancer survivor. Fran McCaffery also mentioned that Vitale formed a relationship with Austin Schroeder, from North Liberty, who died from cancer in 2015 at 15 years old. 

Vitale, who Fran McCaffery called “an amazing person,” will be on the call for ESPN on Tuesday night for the Iowa-Duke game. 

On the court, Fran McCaffery said his team is preparing to face a new-look Blue Devils squad. 

First-year head coach and Duke men’s basketball legend John Scheyer, who took over for Mike Krzyzewski after Krzyzewski’s 42 years at the helm, will lead Duke into Madison Square Garden. 

Two of Duke’s four graduate transfers played in the Big Ten last season. 

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“I think John did a good job,” Fran McCaffery said of Scheyer. “He’s obviously got a terrific recruiting class, but fitting in the grad transfers too gives him a really good blend of youth and experience…. Obviously, we know Ryan Young and Jacob Grandison [were] both really good players in our league and are doing a grad transfer year there…, so it’s a talented team. They have a lot of size. They have depth. They have athleticism, and it’ll be a very difficult challenge for us but one we’re excited for.”

Young and Grandison played for Northwestern and Illinois, respectively. 

Iowa recruited Kyle Filipowski, a standout freshman for Duke, and Filipowski took a visit to Iowa before ultimately choosing the Blue Devils. The 7-foot 230-pounder is averaging 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game so far this season and has started every game. 

Fran McCaffery stands at 499 career wins as a college head coach but says he isn’t thinking much about the gravity that will come with his next victory. 

“I think it’s just indicative of the great opportunities that I’ve had,” Fran McCaffery said. “I have really been blessed. I’ve worked for great athletic directors everywhere I’ve been. I’ve had tremendous players. I’ve had awesome coaches on my staff. I’ll think about that, but I won’t get sentimental about it. We’ll be on to the next whenever that comes, and I’ll just keep grinding.”