Coming in at number 5 in our composite poll, the Iowa Hawkeyes are looking to build off of their somewhat unexpected success in the 2019-20 season, when they went 20-11 with an 11-9 conference record in a very tough Big Ten. Led by incoming senior big man Luka Garza, Iowa has a legit star player and along with some key complimentary players, the Hawkeyes are a real championship contender and should not be taken lightly by anyone.
2019-2020 Record: 20-11
National Championship Odds: +750
Big Ten Championship Odds: +265
Luka Garza: 23.9 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.8 BPG
Joe Wieskamp: 14.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.0 SPG
CJ Fredrick: 10.2 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 2.8 APG
Jordan Bohannon: 8.8 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 3.3 APG
Connor McCaffrey: 6.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.1 SPG
Ahron Ulis: 3-Star Point Guard
Tony Perkins: 3-Star Shooting Guard
|11/25||North Carolina Central||3:00 PM|
They might not be that classic “blue blood” program that’s always near the top of the rankings, but the Iowa Hawkeyes have a real chance to be one of the top teams in the country this season.
For starters, Luka Garza, the Iowa big man, might just be the best player in all of college basketball. Standing at 6-foot-11 with a wide frame, Garza is an absolute force down low on both sides of the ball. He can also step outside the arc and knock down a three-pointer, and he reportedly has improved his range even more this past offseason. The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year has what it takes to singlehandedly carry the Hawkeyes to victories, and he is the reason why they’re being talked about as one of the premier teams in the nation.
That being said, regardless of how incredible of a player Garza is, you can’t win a championship with one player. The rest of Iowa’s starting lineup might not be talked about much on a national scale, but they are experienced, talented players who have a great feel for the game. At the point guard position, Jordan Bohannon is extremely dependable both as a floor general and a knockdown shooter. In fact, Bohannon holds the school record in career three-pointers (284). His backcourt mate, CJ Fredrick is another great shooter. The incoming sophomore was an All-Big Ten Freshman selection last season, when he averaged 10.2 PPG and 2.8 APG. Fredrick was the most efficient three-point shooter in the Big Ten last season, and you can expect more of the same this year.
At small forward, Connor McCaffrey should once again have a very productive season. He is not a primary scoring option, but he impacts the game in other ways. McCaffrey averaged 4 RPG and 4 APG last season, and he was a defensive pest, averaging 1.1 SPG. He has a winner’s mentality and this bodes well for Iowa, a team with national championship aspirations.
As far as the frontcourt is concerned, Luka Garza is once again paired with Joe Wieskamp. The incoming junior was a dominant player for the Hawkeyes last season, when he was named to the All-Big Ten Third Team after averaging 14.0 PPG and 6.1 RPG. At 6-foot-6, Wieskamp’s size, athleticism, and grit makes him a tough, versatile defender. Offensively, Wieskamp can score at all three levels. It should be noted that Wieskamp is a guy who would have been drafted had he declared for the NBA Draft, but he decided to return to college for the same reason as the rest of his teammates: to win a championship.
While you might know them as “the team with Luka Garza”, this Iowa team has one of the best starting lineups in the country. They are experienced, cohesive, and when everyone plays to their strengths, they’re a very tough team to beat. If the Hawkeyes buy into the defensive side of the ball more than they did last season, the sky is the limit for them. This is the season Iowa’s program has been waiting for, and you can expect this to be a team that makes a deep postseason run this March.