Tipoff: 6:02pm CST Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena - Iowa City, IA
Live Stats and Internet Radio: Huskers.com
Radio: IMG Husker Sports Network | KLIN 1400 in Lincoln - KFAB 1110 in Omaha - KRVN 880 in Lexington
Play by play - Kent Pavelka Color - Matt Davison
No big trophies here. No forced rivalries, or fabricated "hate". Just two teams that you might say have little more than pride to play for at this point in the season. Okay, the Hawks still have a shot in the league I suppose..
Iowa, after starting off the season a bit cold, showed signs of life recently - winning games versus Wisconsin in Madison, and Michigan at home in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes are a bit of a conundrum in my book, as they have been playing a little game of Jekyl and Hyde. On one hand, they've taken down two Top 25 teams in the conference, and are averaging over 70 ppg.On the flip side, this is also a team that was blown out by Creighton, manhandled by Ohio State, and even dropped a home game to Campbell, by 16 points.
Nebraska hasn't fared any better, winning a single tough game - Indiana, and just two games so far in the Big Ten. We had our own (ahem) "issues" against those world-beaters at Ohio State, and have suffered as much embarrassment at home as we can probably tolerate without rioting in the streets. No, there aren't many people showcasing this game, or parading the so-called inter-state rivalry in front of any fans that will listen. This is basketball, not football, and the stakes for this game could hardly be less enticing.
Call it a Debbie-Downer moment, but I think the level of frustration around the Sadler program is starting to reach a sort of escape-velocity. The "big" wins are not going to keep satisfying these long stretches of suck, nor will they take attention away from 34 point losses in the home gym. Doc won't lose his job over regular setbacks to Ohio State or Michigan, but one would think he will almost certainly get the boot over repeated losses to average teams, or worse.
Iowa comes into tonight's match up with an 11-9 overall record, and a 3-4 mark in the league. The Hawks are coached by hot -headed Fran McCafferey, who has reportedly been counseled by his department heads that he needs to cool it on the sidelines. Something us Husker fans can appreciate. (I disagree. I always liked seeing chairs thrown on to the court.) Iowa hasn't had much trouble scoring for the most part, averaging 70ppg, and scored a whopping 105 points versus Central Arkansas back on Dec. 19th. But it seems that when they lose, they can lose big. "Bad" losses include Northern Iowa by 20, Campbell by 16, Creighton by 23, and Michigan State by 34. Not to mention the Buckeyes by 29, but hey...we won't hold that one against them. We know how it feels.
Iowa has to be going through a bit of a frustrating time right now. Unlike Nebraska, the Hawkeyes have had success on the basketball court, and not just in the days of old. The Hawks have made regular trips to the NCAA Tournament, and again..unlike Nebraska, have won some of those games. The Hawks have seen some successful coaches come through in the last half-century, including Lute Olson (of Arizona fame) who took the Hawkeyes to the 1980 Final Four, as well as Tom Davis who gave the school it's first #1 ranking in history as well as winning all nine first round games in which his teams made it to the NCAA Tournament. Following Davis was coach Steve Alford, a former Indiana Hoosier star, who led the Hawkeyes to a couple of Big Ten Tournament crowns in his years at Iowa.
After just three years under Todd Lickliter, Iowa is now helmed by the temperamental Fran McCaffery, former coach at Siena. Despite,or possibly due in part to, a bit of a reputation for losing his lid, Fran has some people in Iowa City excited about the future for Hawkeye Basketball. I for one, hope they stay where they're at, or at least when playing Nebraska.
Need a big "feel good" win after that dismantling by tOSU. Go Big Red!