Schwartz: 10 Sentences – The Seeking Clarity on Hawkeyes Edition

March 8, 2020

Written by David Schwartz

Hawkeye Nation

Thirty regular-season games down, one to go. What happens today for the Hawkeyes might provide some clarity about their postseason opportunities.

1. On Thursday, two days after Iowa’s unexpected home loss to Purdue in a game that was never close, I asked whether it is time for fans to panic.

2. We offered three options: shrug off the loss as just one of those weird, random midseason losses that happen periodically; play it rationally and wait and see what happens today against Illinois before passing judgment; or go into full emotional shutdown and resign ourselves to the sad reality that Iowa’s season, basically, is over.

3. The best and most common response was “Yes, yes, and yes,” meaning, depending on the moment, fans were feeling each of those emotions – panic one minute, calm the next, and finally somewhere in the middle.

4. So here we are at last, Iowa’s final regular-season game before the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments, and it’s also the opportunity to learn whether what happened against Purdue is relevant or not to the Hawkeyes’ season-long narrative.

5. Today’s game in Champaign comes with stakes – Big Ten Tournament seeding and byes – so all parties should be motivated, which means if the Hawkeyes win they will have earned a victory on the road in a playoff atmosphere against a good team.

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6. That would go a long way toward minimizing whatever the hell it was we had to watch last Thursday night against Purdue at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, or if you’re the worrying type, it might give you anxiety ahead of the Big Ten Tournament: “If the Hawks can lose at home to barely-.500 Purdue but win at Illinois, they can beat or lose to anybody!”

7. That might be true of the Hawkeyes, and it might be true of pretty much every Big Ten team this season except Maryland, Northwestern, and Nebraska; this year’s Big Ten doesn’t have its Kansas, it just has a bunch of good to very good teams (and two lousy ones) that make it impossible to project success.

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8. Where does that leave Iowa just before tipoff in this week’s Most Important Game of the Season?

9. It leaves them in the same spot they’ve been in since late January – a good team capable of playing well or playing horribly, depending on which way the wind is blowing, although this season it’s blown far more in the direction of playing well.

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10. And if Hawkeye fans are going find comfort in anything, it’s that: the knowledge that Iowa’s men’s basketball team has played far more good basketball in 2019-20 than bad basketball, and anytime you know that your team has far better than a heads-or-tails chance at success, overall you’re in a pretty good – if not perfect – position.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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