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Schwartz: 10 Sentences – The Looking Ahead Too Much Edition

February 2, 2020

Written by David Schwartz

Hawkeye Nation

The Hawkeyes are almost out of the swampy part of their season. Ten sentences to help us figure out where they go from here:

1. Today at noon the Hawkeye men’s team tips off against a suddenly resurgent Illinois squad at Carver-Hawkeye arena, a rivalry perhaps finally renewed after lying dormant for what feels like the last decade as both programs have struggled—and seemingly succeeded—to claw their way back to the top half of the conference.

2. But before Iowa and Illinois go at it, let’s take a moment to appreciate what Iowa basketball has done over the last few weeks, when we first identified this key stretch of their schedule that went Michigan, Rutgers, Wisconsin, at Maryland, and now Illinois.

3. And as we know it went Michigan – win; Rutgers – win; Wisconsin – win; Maryland – loss, and I think we can excuse a single loss during what is, on paper at least, the Hawkeyes’ most challenging sequence of games this season, at least until we see how the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments line up; and now Illinois.

4. A loss today would, to put it ineloquently, suck.

5. They’re so close to the end of this Big Ten gauntlet that to sneak out of it 4-1 having perfectly defended home court would be an unqualified success, and it’s probably unfair – and to be honest dumb – to say that 3-2 would in some way be “unsuccessful,” which obviously isn’t true, but still, c’mon Hawks, finish this thing strong.

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6. Once – if – they get by Illinois, then they’ve got five straight against Big Ten teams with below-.500 conference records: in order it goes Purdue, Nebraska, Indiana, Minnesota, and Ohio State, which as we know in the Big Ten this season, any team, including the Hawkeyes – who already have a loss to the Huskers – could just as easily go 1-4 as 4-1.

7. Still, there are reasons those teams are below .500 and other teams are above .500, and if those reasons hold even a shred of meaning, then one has to feel at minimum a modicum of confidence that, even if the Hawkeyes put up a couple of stinkers – say, at Purdue, which is getting better, and Indiana, which should be getting better – they can still go 3-2 in their five games leading up to the one team in the country – not the Big Ten, the country – that I don’t feel they’re capable of beating: Michigan State on Feb. 25 in East Lansing.

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8. I know Fran McCaffery’s got a couple of wins against Tom Izzo, but they’re anomalies, so let’s put it this way: If Iowa went into East Lansing with a 25-0 record and the Spartans were 0-25 and all of their players had the flu so they could only play their practice-squad players, but two of them had the flu so they only had four players left, and undefeated Iowa got to play 5-on-4 against the Michigan State practice squad, I’d still bet on the Michigan State practice squad.

9. Michigan State and Izzo are so far in the head of McCaffery and his players that their temporal and parietal lobes are painted green and white.

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10. So if the Hawkeyes can stay tough for one last game of this difficult stretch, eek out another home win against a ranked team today against Illinois, it’ll soften the blow of what is likely to happen at East Lansing later this month, and yeah, it’s weird to consider that what happens in one game will carry some meaning about what happens in another game three-plus weeks from now, but this is college basketball and it’s February now, which means from here on out, everything matters.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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