Nebraska heads into unholy land as they take on the Hawkeyes
Date: Tuesday, January 5th
Location of School: Iowa City, IA
Coach: Fran McCaffery (6th year)
2015-16 Record: 11-3 (2-0 conference)
Ranking: AP #19 - Coaches #23
Hawkeyes are coming in Lincoln with two big wins over ranked foes. They beat #1 Michigan State on December 29th and #14 Purdue on January 2nd. They were projected to be in the middle of the conference at the beginning of the year and have slowly started climbing towards the top. Could this be the year they make a run?
2014-15 Season: 22-12 (12-6 Conference)
Iowa finished tied for 3rd in conference play with Michigan State and behind Wisconsin and Maryland. They lost in the second round of the conference tournament to Penn State. An at large bid got them into the NCAA Tournament where they lost to Gonzaga in the third round.
The season started out a little on the rocky side. Most division one schools schedule a game or two against a lower division opponent at the beginning of the year. Iowa is no different and they happened to schedule both of the schools from Sioux Falls, SD. Seems simple enough, right? The first game against the University of Sioux Falls was a fairly easy win at 99-73. The second one against Augustana College....wasn't so great. The Hawkeyes got beat by the division II program 76-74. It's a good thing this game doesn't count against their record.
With that said, Augustana is currently 12-0 in Division II and ranked #2 in the nation. You could say there is very little shame in that.
Too bad for the Vikings that the Iowa win doesn't count...
Outside of that awkward loss the Hawkeyes have done well for the year with their only "countable" losses to Dayton, Notre Dame, and a last second heart breaker against their in-state rival. I'm pretty sure I heard the collective screams from Ames here in Madison County.
Up until last week the Hawkeyes were looked upon as a decent, but not yet elite team in the conference. Those key wins against two good ranked opponents have started to make people look a little closely towards the Hawkeye state.
Players to Watch
Jarrod Uthoff - 6'9" forward who is averaging 18.1 ppg and 6.0 rpg. Recently had 24 points and 5 bloks in the Purdue win and is considered one of the top players in the conference.
Peter Jok - Guard that is averaging 13.5 ppg and has carried the Hawkeye offense when needed.
Mike Gesell - Remember this kid? He's the South Sioux City boy who Doc couldn't get to stay in the state a few years back. He's now a senior and still a major contributor to the Hawkeyes. The 6'2" guard is averaging 9.1 ppg. Watch out for him and......don't boo the kid. He made his decision and now has to live with it.
What could possibly happen
Iowa is going into this game with one heck of a hot streak and are ranked for the first time this year. They're playing at home and will most likely have a ravenous crowd behind them. Shavon Shields and Andrew White III need to play heads up and stay out of foul trouble because we will need them for most of the game. The bench will also need to be fully engaged if we want to pull out a win.
Nebraska can play well in the first half. They have shown that throughout the season. If they could keep the momentum and not get into any scoring droughts (broken freakin' record here) they could push Iowa for the upset.