The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Point/Counterpoint | Iowa men’s basketball’s postseason potential

Sports reporters Chris Meglio and Brad Schultz give their takes on the Hawkeyes’ ceiling this postseason.
Carly Schrum
Iowa guards Dasonte Bowen and Brock Harding chase after the ball for a steal during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Rutgers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 6. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 86-77. The Hawkeyes had 9 steals during the game.

Sweet 16

Those who have followed the Iowa men’s basketball team this year will say a Sweet 16 appearance is “a stretch,” let alone an NCAA tournament appearance, and that’s because it is.

That doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

The outcome of a basketball game is determined by whichever team scores the most points by the time the clock hits zero. Iowa owns one of the most dangerous offenses in all of college basketball, sitting 17th in the nation and second in Big Ten play with 83.4 points a game.

The Hawkeyes also sit among the top in the nation with a 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio (3rd); 30.6 field goals made per game (8th); 17.6 assists per game (13th); a 77.8 team free throw percentage (15th); 63.8 field goals attempted per game (17th); 9.8 turnovers per game (25th); and a 47.8 team field goal percentage (30th).

However, Iowa’s defense this season has been underwhelming, to say the least, ranking 331st out of 363 qualifying teams with 78.1 points allowed and 28 opponent field goals made per game. The team saw multiple collapses on that side of the floor, including two blown double-digit leads against Maryland — one of those losses coming off a last-second shot at the rim.

Currently owning a 16-12 overall record and an 8-9 conference mark, the Hawkeyes must win at least two of its last three games for any real shot at the Big Dance. They will face the second-best team in the Big Ten in Illinois, the fourth-best team in the Big Ten in Northwestern, and Penn State, who had taken the first matchup against Iowa on Feb. 8.

Iowa has built momentum as of late, winning three of its last five games. Momentum is everything down the stretch of the season, especially in the NCAA Tournament We’ve seen it with teams like Oral-Roberts in 2021, UMBC and Loyola-Chicago in 2018, and the famous run made by Stephen Curry-led Davidson back in 2008.

Momentum is everything down the stretch of the season, especially in the NCAA Tournament. If the momentum carries over, the Hawkeyes can make a Cinderella run.

Deep NIT run

Though it’s becoming a real possibility for Iowa to make the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight season, I think the Hawkeyes just miss out on the field of 68 and qualify for the NIT, which would be their first appearance since 2017.

Before all the fair-weather fans start to complain about the team’s potential destinations, playing in the NIT isn’t a horrible thing, especially for a program in a rebuilding year. Obviously, it’s still disappointing, but head coach Fran McCaffery will gladly take a postseason berth in a down year.

Throughout the season, Iowa’s freshmen have slowly molded into key roles on this squad. Brock Harding provides big time energy off the bench and Owen Freeman has probably locked up the Big Ten Freshman of the Year at this point. Ladji Dembele is a tough competitor making big strides on both ends of the floor, and Pryce Sandfort, the younger brother of third-year forward Payton Sandfort, has played with more confidence in the last few games.

All four players have high potential, but the Hawkeyes have also experienced the typical struggles with a young roster, with several blown second half leads and inconsistent play at times. However, the talent of this group along with future prospects should give Iowa fans plenty of optimism for the direction of the program.

Though I hope the Hawks can find a way back to the Dance, a deep run isn’t likely, considering Iowa hasn’t made it past the first weekend since 1999. This Hawkeye squad has felt like an NIT team throughout the conference season despite playing better as of late.

This team reminds me of the 2013 squad, which came within a game of making the NCAA Tournament but responded by advancing to the NIT Championship game. Following the loss, the Hawkeyes built on that momentum and qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2014.

I feel Iowa’s postseason ceiling is a run in the NIT as the Hawkeyes continue to develop their young talent into what should be a bounce back 2025 campaign.

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About the Contributors
Brad Schultz
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.
Chris Meglio
Chris Meglio, Sports Reporter
Chris Meglio is a first year student at the University of Iowa studying a double major in sport studies and journalism. He will be working as a sports journalist for The Daily Iowan covering women's volleyball for the fall sports season.
Carly Schrum
Carly Schrum, Photojournalist
Carly is a freshman majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and potentially majoring in sustainability. She works at the Daily Iowan as a photojournalist.