Team: Iowa Hawkeyes
Location: Iowa City, Iowa
Conference: Big Ten
Head coach: Fran McCaffery (11 seasons, 216-152)
2020-2021 record: 22-9 overall, 14-6 B1G
Top returning players: 6-foot-1, G, Jordan Bohannon (10.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.4 asp); 6-foot-8, F, Keegan Murray (7.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 50.1 FG%); 6-foot-9, F, Patrick McCaffery (5.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 44 FG%).
Top newcomers: 6-foot-9, F, Filip Rebraca (transfer from North Dakota State) 16.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg last season; 6-foot-9, F, Payton Sandfort (Waukee, Iowa), rated as a 3-star by 247 Sports Composite; 6-foot-11, F, Riley Mulvey (Rotterdam N.Y.), rated as a 3-star by 247 Sports Composite
2020-2021 review: Iowa had it’s best team of the Fran McCafery era this past season. Led by Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp, the Hawkeyes were one of the top teams in the Big Ten all season long and were consistently ranked inside the top-10 throughout the season. Garza was an absolute force, scoring over 24 points per game and nearly hauling in nine rebounds per contest on his way to winning the National Player of the Year Award in runaway fashion.
After a tremendous regular season, Iowa finished third in the highly contested Big Ten standings, and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes went on to lose in the second round however, as Oregon took them down by 15.
Following the season, Garza went on to collect numerous awards, while he and Wieskamp both went on to be drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft. Fellow impact players CJ Fredrick (Kentucky) and big man Jack Nunge (Xavier) opted to transfer following the season as well, much to the surprise of most across the Big Ten.
2021-2022 preview: Coming off of one of the best seasons in recent Iowa history, the 2021-2022 campaign is projected to be a rebuilding year. Jordan Bohannon is back, and his shooting ability should help them immensely, but the rest of their core nucleus from last year’s squad is gone. Bohannon will probably play off the ball more this season as the two-guard, with Joe Toussaint the likely point guard. Toussaint played sparingly off the bench last season, but he did start the year prior.
Replacing the scoring ability of Luka Garza inside is going to take a committee approach. Keegan Murray flashed last season off the bench, and he is projected to start this season. He had one of his best games last season against the Badgers, and his length/athletic ability make him an intriguing player to take a big jump in his second year within the conference.
Patrick McCaffery, the coaches son, is also back and should see plenty of playing time as well. The amount of production Iowa can get out of the trio of Murray, McCaffery, and North Dakota transfer Filip Rebraca will play a key role in how well the Hawkeyes do this season.
In most preseason projections, both Iowa and Wisconsin are projected to be bubble level teams. Over the past eight years, Fran McCaffery has led his team to the Big Dance five times, so it will be interesting to see if they can reload and make it back this year.
Game versus Wisconsin: Thursday, January 6, Madison, Wis., Kohl Center, FS1, 8 p.m. CT