The Impact: Iowa Could Have Had A Long NCAA Run

Iowa's Joe Wieskamp (10) could have used more games in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments to get out of his season-ending slump. (Jeffrey Becker/USA Today Sports)

John Bohnenkamp

Iowa could have been playing somewhere this weekend in the regional semifinals of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

The Hawkeyes could also have been out the door in the first round.

It was that kind of season in college basketball, and the Hawkeyes weren't immune to it.

Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde, for example, had the Hawkeyes as a 6 seed and getting knocked out by North Carolina State in the first round in his mock bracket.

It would have been interesting to see what the Hawkeyes would have done, first in the Big Ten tournament and then in the NCAA tournament.

At 20-11 overall and 11-9 in the Big Ten, Iowa had its ups and downs during the season, especially down the stretch.

Two ugly losses to Purdue stood out the most, but this was still a team capable of putting together a long run in March.

A look at what was missed with the cancellation of the rest of the season:

Garza on the big stage

It's hard to tell what sort of impact Luka Garza's postseason performance would have had on his national player of the year chances.

Most of the awards had their ballot deadline before the NCAA Tournament started, so it probably wouldn't have made much of a difference.

But it would have given the nation a better chance to see what we have seen all season — a dominant player who proved unstoppable in one of the toughest conferences in the nation.

Garza averaged more than 26 points in the Big Ten play against a night-after-night parade of some of the top post players in the nation. And is ability to adjust to defenses in games showed how much he had grown as a player.

Garza would have been a star on college basketball's biggest stage.

A Wieskamp revival

Sophomore Joe Wieskamp needed a way to break out of his late-season slump.

Wieskamp made just 4-of-24 three-pointers over his final six games. But Wieskamp wasn't daunted in his first postseason trip last season — he scored 30 points in Iowa's two NCAA tournament games and was 5-of-11 in threes.

A late run in March would have given him momentum heading into the offseason.

A first run for Fredrick and Toussaint

CJ Fredrick took a redshirt season last year to get ready to play.

Joe Toussaint had a strong freshman season.

The two guards would have benefited from postseason play.

Fredrick battled injuries during Big Ten play — a stress reaction in his foot cost him two games, and a sprained ankle cost him three. He was starting to get back into a rhythm when the season shut down.

Toussaint showed no fear, and plenty of defensive toughness, during his first season, which coach Fran McCaffery expected.

Postseason experience would have been crucial for them.

Goodbyes for Kriener and Evelyn

Ryan Kriener was ready for "fun" in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

The senior forward never got that chance.

Neither did guard Bakari Evelyn, who came to the Hawkeyes as a grad transfer with the hopes of making it to the NCAA tournament.

Both players proved to be big contributors off the bench. Kriener was having the best season of his career, while Evelyn started slow but felt more comfortable with more playing time. And McCaffery was comfortable with him, using him in late-game situations.

Both deserved a better sendoff.

A foundation for next year

Outside of Kriener, Evelyn, and forward Riley Till, everyone else figured to be back next season.

Whatever happened in March was going to build a foundation for next season.

The Hawkeyes are already being considered a contender for the Big Ten title next season. What they could have done in their remaining game could have been a big step in accomplishing that goal.

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