Schwartz: 10 Sentences From The Rutgers Loss

March 3, 2019

Written by David Schwartz

Iowa lost Saturday to Rutgers, 86-72, one of the teams on its schedule considered as close to a gimme as one can get in the Big Ten. It was an ugly loss. A potentially hurtful loss to Iowa’s various postseason possibilities. Ten sentences drawn from Saturday’s defeat:

1. There will be plenty to say about the Hawkeyes following Saturday’s 14-point home loss to Rutgers, but first I want to say something about the Scarlet Knights.

2. After watching Iowa play Rutgers twice in the last two weeks, I’ve got to admit how much I enjoy watching the Knights play basketball.

3. I’m not tuned in enough to Rutgers basketball to understand why they’re just a .500 team, but man, that team plays hard; they chase down loose balls, fight for every rebound, contest every shot, and aren’t afraid to put a body on you.

4. My heart will always be with the Hawkeyes, but after watching many of the Iowa players appear to emotionally shut down Saturday because Rutgers outworked them (not Nicholas Baer, who played brilliantly on senior night), I’ll root for the Knights to win the Big Ten Tournament if it can’t be Iowa (spoiler: neither of those teams is winning it).

5. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and ask yourself the following question: Given that the Hawkeyes have lost three out of their last four games, their last two games by an average of 17 points, and their coach chased down a referee he was grumpy with and got suspended, what seed would you say does Iowa presently deserve in the NCAA Tournament?

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6. Thinking about the NET metric, the personalities and tendencies of the tournament selection committee, and other factors, one can reasonably conclude that Iowa currently falls in the 8-10 range, which means we’re looking at a best-case scenario of a second-round NCAA appearance, which wouldn’t be horrible.

7. It’s an interesting question to ponder but an impossible one to answer until we see what happens at the Big Ten Tournament, which starts in less than two weeks and either threatens to expose Iowa as a program trapped in a fragile moment or presents an opportunity for the Hawkeyes to regain the magic and momentum from just a few weeks ago (but feels like two years ago).

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8. Because, yeesh, was that Rutgers game ugly for the Hawkeyes: 28 percent three-point shooting (and we know what that means), below-70 percent free-throw shooting; rotation disorganization.

9. Maybe some of it had to do with Fran McCaffery being suspended – heck, maybe lots had to do with McCaffery being suspended – but even so it’s a moot point, because now it’s over, the Hawkeyes lost at home late in the season to a team that leaves a blemish on their postseason résumé, and now the Hawkeyes get to play without their head coach again Thursday at Wisconsin, a team more dangerous than Rutgers (but hey, at least McCaffery got to give that ref a piece of his mind, right?).

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10. Hopefully Saturday was the low point to Iowa’s season, they can knock off Nebraska in the regular-season finale (Wisconsin on Thursday is a less hopeful proposition), win a couple of Big Ten Tourney games, and put the last week or so far, far in the rear-view mirror.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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