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Minnesota Basketball: Previewing Iowa

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Gophers host #19 Iowa in resume-building opportunity

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Almost, right? The Gophers fell just short in a terribly painful way against Michigan when Charles Matthews hit a buzzer-beating jumper to sink Minnesota in Ann Arbor. For a team that had battled back to erase a 10-point deficit and nearly force overtime against the fifth-ranked team in the nation, it was truly a heartbreaker and a missed opportunity. Can you imagine a resume that has road wins against Wisconsin and Michigan, but also a blowout loss to Illinois? I guess we’ll never know.

Now, the Gophers try to rebound at home against another tough opponent, the Iowa Hawkeyes, who come into Williams Arena ranked #19 in the country and have played a brutal schedule thus far. This is the only time the Gophers will face Iowa this season, and the question now remains, will we see the Minnesota squad that brought one of the nation’s top teams to the brink or the one that fell face first against the Illini?

A win here significantly rights the ship for Minnesota, who needs to show it can beat competent teams at home with regularity. A loss throws even more uncertainty into a season whose schedule is about to get significantly harder.

Essentials:

Who are the Gophers playing?

Iowa Hawkeyes (5-4, 16-4)

What time are they playing?

Sunday, Jan. 26 @ 4:05 p.m. CT

Where are they playing?

Williams Arena

Can I watch the game on TV?

Yes, FS1.

Can I listen to the game on the radio?

Yes, KFAN 100.3-FM.

Tell me more about the opponent.

Talk about a turnaround. One year after finishing a dismal 14-19 and tied for 11th in the B1G, the Hawkeyes have gone undefeated in non-conference games, including wins over Oregon, Iowa State, UConn and Pitt, while notching wins over Ohio State and Nebraska in conference. Part of that is returning all five of their starters from last year. But even their 5-4 record in conference play is a bit misleading. Their four losses have come against Wisconsin, Michigan State x2 and Purdue, meaning they’ve played a particularly difficult schedule thus far this year. Have they beaten them? No. In fact, they’ve lost by double digits in each of their conference losses, with the exception of a six-point home loss to Bucky. So, at the very least we know they can be beaten.

Tyler Cook leads the way, and has improved in his junior season to lead the team in scoring at 16.6 ppg and eight rebounds per game. He’s supported by sophomore forward Luka Garza, who has taken off in the previous five games, averaging 19 points per game in that span.

And, of course we get to see the many anger levels of human Instant Pot Fran McCaffrey. If you’re not familiar with the FRANCON Alert System, feel free to familiarize yourself.

Predictions

This is a tough one. On one hand Iowa has been playing really good basketball of late and throughout the season, but they’re also hardly road warriors and are far from world beaters. I’m taking Minnesota at home in this one in a nail-biter 64-62.