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Iowa men: Resume games aplenty in Big Ten

[ 0 ] December 28, 2012 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Bracketology wasn’t a basketball buzzword when Fran McCaffery played guard at the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1980s.

“I don’t think any of us ever envisioned that there would be a bracketology, but there it is,” McCaffery said Friday.

Bracketology is an educated, statistically-driven guess at who will make the NCAA Tournament field come March. Both ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and CBS’ Jerry Palm have the Hawkeyes in the 68-team field as of this week.

“It means nothing right now,” said McCaffery, Iowa’s third-year coach. “But recruits do get on the Internet and they look at that stuff, so it’s definitely good.”

Iowa meets Cody Zeller, left, and No. 5 Indiana at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams. (USA TODAY Sports)

Ultimately, winning on the floor is what matters. And Iowa, 11-2, has a chance to polish its NCAA resume when it opens Big Ten play by hosting No. 5 Indiana on Monday at sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“It’s a ranked opponent, a top-five team,” said Devyn Marble, Iowa’s leading scorer. “It should be a great test to see where we stand in the Big Ten.”

Iowa hasn’t been in the NCAA Tournament since 2006. Aaron White said that the NCAAs have been the goal since the season started.

“You definitely take it one game at a time as far as preparation,” Whit

e said. “But when you look at the league as a whole, you do see opportunities like we had last year. There’s a lot of chances where we can get a marquee win.”

McCaffery’s rebuilding efforts got a lift last season when the Hawkeyes won four of seven games against top 25 foes. The Hawkeyes won at No. 11 Wisconsin and beat No. 13 Michigan, No. 18 Indiana and No. 15 Wisconsin at home.

McCaffery has won five of his last eight games against rated foes, dating to a 67-65 victory over No. 6 Purdue in Iowa’s final regular-season game of the 2010-11 season. The victory snapped a streak of 26 consecutive losses against ranked foes.

There will be plenty of opportunity for Iowa to make a name for itself by knocking off ranked foes again this season. The Big Ten has six teams rated in this week’s Associated Press poll, and holds down five of the first 12 spots.

Iowa has eight Big Ten games against ranked conference foes, including the first three. After opening with No. 5 Indiana, the Hawkeyes play at No. 2 Michigan on Jan. 6 and host No. 19 Michigan State on Jan. 10.

“We have not even mentioned who we play after Indiana,” McCaffery said.

Of those six rated Big Ten teams, Iowa plays four of them just once — at Michigan and No. 10 Ohio State and home dates with Michigan State and No. 12 Illinois.

“In terms of postseason, that’s going to be the critical thing,” McCaffery said.

“We have got opportunities that we’ve got to take advantage of.”

Iowa's Big Ten opener

WHO: No. 5 Indiana (11-1) at Iowa (11-2)

WHEN: 3 p.m. Monday

TV: ESPN2

TICKETS: Game is sold out

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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