Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

If Iowa men’s basketball head coach Fran McCaffery hadn’t told the media that his son and Iowa forward Patrick McCaffery was “doing a lot better” at a press conference on Jan. 19, I would have a lot more trouble writing this.

But because he did, I believe the Hawkeyes will earn entry into their fourth straight NCAA tournament when March rolls around.

A lot of that confidence comes from the fact that Iowa has won four of its last five games, and who the Hawkeyes have done that with — or without.

All of the Hawkeyes’ wins during that stretch came against teams with good big men, and Iowa has had to match up against those players without both 6-foot-9 Patrick McCaffery and 6-foot-10 Josh Ogundele. Ogundele was injured in practice after the Penn State game on Jan. 1, and Patrick McCaffery took a leave from the team on Jan. 3.

On the heels of three straight losses, without two important interior players, it would’ve been easy for the Hawkeyes’ holiday-season struggles to continue.

But Iowa has since turned it around. On the backs of forward Kris Murray and center Filip Rebraca, with help from a supporting cast of experienced wing players and guards who know where the ball should go, the Hawkeyes have has pulled themselves from the bottom of the Big Ten to the top half of the league’s standings.

I’m not saying that I think Iowa is going to run the table for the rest of the season, I’m just saying the Hawkeyes’ winning streak has proven that they are a resilient bunch that knows how to get the ball to their best players.

And the Hawkeyes do have size, it’s just in the form of a lot of length, not necessarily a 7-footer in the middle.

When Patrick McCaffery comes back, which Fran McCaffery says will be sooner rather  than later, Iowa will have five players 6-foot-7 or taller in its regular rotation of nine.

I still think Purdue’s 7-foot-4 Zach Edey will have a field day when Iowa faces the No. 3 Boilermakers on Feb. 9, but Iowa will receive an invitation to the dance regardless. Who even cares about that stupid Eastern Illinois game? Not me.

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