Iowa is the newest No. 1 seed in ESPN’s latest Bracketology projection, as a Hawkeyes team that has proved to be much more than just Luka Garza has been the nation’s foremost offensive juggernaut in 2020-21. But is Fran McCaffery’s program, which has never been synonymous with trips to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, a true national title contender? ESPN.com’s panel of experts tackled that question, mystery teams and miracle-working coaches, and all of the top games of college basketball’s fourth weekend of 2020-21.
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Iowa moved to the top line in Bracketology this week, an appropriate spot for a program that has won all six of its games by double digits and scored more than 90 points every time out. What NCAA team from years past does this Iowa group most evoke for you? Do you worry about whether the Hawkeyes’ style will work in the NCAA tournament?Is there a more fun team in college basketball in 2020-21 than the Iowa Hawkeyes? Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Borzello, college basketball insider: I’m definitely concerned about Iowa on the defensive end. The Hawkeyes have simply outscored opponents up to this point, which could be an issue against Gonzaga on Saturday and in the Big Ten, where games tend to be a little more rugged and coaches are more familiar with each other’s tendencies. Fran McCaffery’s team had an elite offense last season, too, but Iowa gave up more than 86 points per game in its 11 losses. The Hawkeyes haven’t ranked inside the top 95 in adjusted defensive efficiency since 2016; that has to change.
It’s hard to find a team like Iowa in the past, though. There have been plenty of teams — Creighton last season comes to mind — that are heavily reliant on the 3-point shot and aren’t great defensively, but they didn’t have a big man like Luka Garza. The Doug McDermott-led Creighton teams might be better comparisons. From a personnel standpoint, a souped-up version of some of those Omar Samhan-led Saint Mary’s teams from a decade ago aren’t bad comparisons — but Iowa is much better and more explosive.
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