Iowa is not a good team. The Hawks are 7-6 against what Pomeroy rates as the #276 schedule in the country. As noted above, Iowa enters Big Ten play with Sagarin and RPI numbers more appropriate for a team from the SWAC or the Ivy League. Pomeroy predicts a 4-14 conference record for Iowa, and give the Hawks better-than-even odds only in their home games against Northwestern and Michigan.
The Iowa game.
By John M. IU
Current Record: 7-6
Big Ten record: 0-0
Current RPI: 234
Current Sagarin: 197
2006-07 record: 17-14 (9-7 in Big Ten, no postseason)
2006-07 RPI: 97
2006-07 Sagarin: 78
Series: IU leads 91-68
Last meeting: Iowa 81, IU 75 (2/3/07 at Iowa)
Last IU win: 71-64 (in Bloomington, 1/16/07)
Last IU win at Iowa City: 2/19/03 (79-63)
Blog: Black Heart Gold Pants
Iowa cannot resist hiring coaches with ties to Indiana (the state, not the the university). After forcing out consistently above average Tom Davis, Iowa handed the reins to former IU great Steve Alford. Alford's record at Iowa was decent, but not as good as his predecessor's. He also seemed to wear out his welcome in Iowa City based on various personality and off-the-court issues (most notably his coddling of sex offender Pierre Pierce). Now, the Hawkeyes have replaced Alford with former Butler coach Todd Lickliter. Lickliter, a Butler alum and assistant under Barry Collier and Thad Matta, didn't build the Bulldogs from scratch but did preside over the school's greatest moments since the Tony Hinkle era. So far, Iowa is playing to the mid-major stereotype. Iowa is very slow (60.8 possessions per game, nearly dead last in Division I). Last season, Lickliter's excellent Butler team averaged only 58.4 possessions per game. Iowa is excellent defensively (allowing only .91 points per possession and a 44.2 effective field goal percentage, both in the top 50 in Division I), like Lickliter's last Butler team. Unlike the 2007 Bulldogs, Iowa has been awful on the offensive end, averaging a sub-200 .951 points per shot and only 50 percent effective field goal percentage, #162 nationally. The Hawkeyes turn the ball over on 27.5 percent of their possessions, again, almost dead last nationally (#332). This is in complete contrast to last year's Butler team, which led the nation with a 15.5 offensive turnover percentage. In short, the Hawkeyes are defending well, but offensively bear no resemblance to Lickliter's best Butler teams.
In addition to adjusting to a new coach and system, the Hawkeyes just don't have much experience. Of Iowa's five leaders in minutes played, three are freshman. The top two returnees in minutes played, Justin Johnson and Kurt Looby, ranked #4 and #8 in that category last year. Tyler Smith, who was Iowa's second leading scorer, transferred to Tennessee, in part because of his ailing father. Tony Freeman, son of the former Hoosier of the same name, has played only three games because of a foot injury. Still, other than a road win against Northern Iowa (#107 in the RPI), the Hawkeyes don't have anything approximating a quality win and have lost to such powers as Louisiana Monroe and Utah State.
While Iowa should improve as the season and years go by, this one goes in the Penn State/Northwestern category this season. It's an outstanding opportunity to pick up a Big Ten road win. If IU loses or wins a close one, be concerned about the Hoosiers' status as a Big Ten front-runner.
I do hope to give basketball matchups more attention than this as the season transpires, but the Insight Bowl and the holiday made it impossible this time.