As everyone knows, Friday night’s win over #5 Michigan was huge for the Iowa basketball team, but how important was it and what does it mean going forward?
You’d have to be living under a rock to not realize the magnitude of beating a top-five team in college basketball. It’s huge, and the excitement and magnitude is clearly shown by the on-court celebration that ensued once the final buzzer sounded and the Iowa basketball team won 74 to 59 against Michigan.
It was the Hawkeyes’ first win over a top-five team since the 2015-2016 season when the Iowa basketball team managed to beat Michigan State twice in a span of a few weeks. Granted, the Hawks have had two down years the past two seasons, but it’s been nearly three years since Iowa beat a top-five team. That speaks volumes to the rarity and nature of this contest.
That being said, what other impacts did this win have on the Iowa basketball team for this season and the coming?
Well first, let’s look at the short-term and that’s that the Hawks jumped right back into the AP Top-25 landing at 20th. This win also gave Fran McCaffery his 168th career win, tied for 2nd all-time in Iowa basketball history and it put the Hawks at 17 wins, which is just three wins from the magical 20 that is likely needed for a tournament birth. More importantly though from a NCAA tournament perspective, this gave the Hawks their signature win that has been unfortunately missing this season.
It’s not that the Hawks haven’t risen to the occasion a few times, just that those wins that looked good a month ago (Oregon, UConn, Nebraska, and Ohio State) don’t look so hot anymore. Outside of the Michigan game, the Hawks have just one win versus a top-25 team and that was #17 Iowa State.
This win also puts Iowa firmly on the map as a team opponents do not want to face in the Big Ten tournament or the NCAA tournament. While the Hawks may be slightly inconsistent, especially on the road, they are capable of playing with literally any team in the country. Their 15-point win over Michigan shows exactly what they are capable of doing if they commit to playing good defense and can hit a few shots.
Finally, let’s hope for the sake of the twitter-sphere and Hawkeye nation that this win can give Iowa basketball fans a collective sigh of relief that this isn’t the same team as last year. This team is resilient and can close out big games unlike last year’s team that was in many of their games but ultimately only came away with 14 victories.
It’s a fun time to be an Iowa basketball fan. With nine games remaining in the regular season, the Hawks have the opportunity to potentially finish with 26 wins, but more realistically somewhere in the 22 to 23 win mark, which would be the most regular season wins in the Fran McCaffery era.