ESPN High On Hawkeyes After Garza's Announcement

John Bohnenkamp

The return of consensus first-team All-American center Luka Garza to Iowa's lineup for the 2020-21 season has created high expectations for the Hawkeyes.

ESPN writer Kyle Soppe wrote on Monday that Garza's return makes the Hawkeyes a serious contender for the NCAA national championship.

Soppe even has a nickname for Garza:

"Iowa has advanced to just three Final Fours in the history of the program (1955, 1956, 1980) with zero titles to show for it. Is 2020-21 the season? You won't find me betting against it now that "Garzilla" is back in black (and yes, I'm going to make "Garzilla" happen)."

Garza was the Big Ten's player of the year last season and was named the national player of the year by six outlets after a season in which he averaged 23.9 points per game, closing the year with 16 consecutive games of 20 points or more against Big Ten competition.

ESPN analyst Dick Vitale agreed:

ESPN's Jeff Borzello wrote that the Big Ten was one of the big winners after the NCAA's deadline on Monday for players to withdraw from the NBA Draft.

Borzello wrote:

"Heading into the season, barring any surprise departures, the Big Ten will have three surefire top-10 teams (Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois), another team knocking on the door (Michigan State) and at least four other teams (Ohio State, Indiana, Rutgers, Michigan) with an argument to be ranked in the Top 25. No other league will be able to match that on paper -- after a season that likely would have seen the Big Ten get 10 of 14 teams into the NCAA tournament. If the 2020-21 season ends up being conference-only, the selection committee could have a brutal time parsing through Big Ten résumés, especially when some Top-25-caliber teams could have losing conference records."