IOWA CITY, Iowa - Heading into the 2022-23 men’s college basketball season, there were 10 teams with at least 22 victories over Top 25 teams over the previous five years. Iowa was one of them.
Kansas led that list with 36, and Michigan State was next with 31. Baylor and Michigan had 27 and Texas Tech and Villanova 26. Then came Purdue with 25, Duke with 24 and Iowa and Virginia with 22.
The Hawkeyes got all 22 of those Top 25 triumphs in a four-season stretch. After going 0-5 in 2017-18, Iowa went 5-7 in 2018-19, 7-5 in 2019-20, 8-5 in 2020-21 and 2-5 last season. Those eight victories in 2020-21 tied Kansas and Illinois for the second-most Top 25 wins nationally. Iowa’s 15 ranked victories from 2019-20 through 2020-21 were the most in the nation in that two-year window.
And there will be no shortage of opportunities starting next week. Iowa meets No. 17 Duke at Madison Square Garden in New York City Tuesday, then hosts No. 23 Iowa State on Thursday. Iowa has 11 games remaining against rated foes according to the latest Associated Press poll.
“We’ve got great opportunities to improve our resume and get better,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “But all we do is focus on the next one. So right now we’re just locked in on Duke.”
McCaffery said there are several reasons why his program has had recent success against Top 25 opponents.
“I think it says a lot about the toughness of our guys,” he said. “It also says a lot about our league. You can’t beat them if you don’t play them. And there are a lot of teams ranked in the Big Ten.”
The Hawkeyes are one of seven Big Ten teams to be ranked so far this season, joining Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan State, Maryland and Ohio State. There have been eight teams ranked at one point in each of the last two seasons. Four teams landed in the Top 10 of the final 2020-21 poll. Illinois was No. 2, Michigan No. 4. Ohio State No. 7 and Iowa No. 8.
With Duke and Iowa State now ranked, opportunities for Top 25 success are plentiful.
“We definitely loaded up this schedule,” McCaffery said.
Iowa is 3-1 against Power 5 teams so far. The only games remaining against non-Power 5 foes will be at home against Southeast Missouri State Dec. 17 and Eastern Illinois Dec. 21. Iowa opens Big Ten play against Wisconsin on Dec. 11 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa’s success against Top 25 competition is a far cry from a dismal stretch between 2006 and 2011. After the 2005-06 team won eight of nine games against ranked foes, the Hawkeyes went 1-28 against Top 25 competition until McCaffery’s first team closed out the regular season with a 67-65 upset of No. 6 Purdue.That also ended a streak of 23 consecutive losses to Top 25 teams. Since that victory over the Boilermakers, Iowa has gone 41-57 against ranked foes.
Iowa’s recent victories vs. Top 25 teams
Nov. 15, 2018 - Iowa 77, No. 13 Oregon 69 (2K Classic, Madison Square Garden N.Y.) - Coming off a 14-19 season that included an 0-5 mark against Top 25 foes, the Hawkeyes handled Oregon from start to finish. Jordan Bohannon scored 16 points, Luka Garza 12 and Ryan Kriener 11. Tyler Cook chipped in with nine points and 10 rebounds. It was Iowa’s first victory over a rated foe since a 59-57 decision over No. 22 Wisconsin on March 2, 2017.
Jan. 6, 2019 - Iowa 93, No. 24 Nebraska 84 - Jordan Bohannon scored 25 points, including a pair of 3-pointers that squelched a second-half run by the Cornhuskers. Tyler Cook added 16 points, his ninth consecutive game with at least 15. Ryan Kriener chipped in with 14 in his first career start, replacing the injured Luka Garza.
Jan. 12, 2019 - Iowa 72, No. 16 Ohio State 62 - Iowa improved to 14-3, matching its victory total from the previous season. Luka Garza scored 16 points, Tyler Cook 15 and Joe Wieskamp was solid across the board with 10 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Iowa had a 36-18 edge in points in the paint.
Feb. 1, 2019 - Iowa 74, No. 5 Michigan 59 - An 11-0 run in the first half gave the Hawkeyes the lead for good, and fans stormed the court after the victory over a Michigan team that had won 18 of their 19 previous Big Ten games and 34 of 36 overall. Luka Garza scored 19 points and Joe Wieskamp added 16. Ryan Kriener registered his first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
March 18, 2019 - Iowa 79, No. 22 Cincinnati 72 (NCAA Tournament, first round) - Down a dozen points late in the first half, the Hawkeyes rallied and took the lead for good on Luka Garza’s hoop with 4:04 remaining, 64-62. Garza finished with 20 points, Joe Wieskamp 19 and Jordan Bohannon 13. Nicholas Baer, the only Iowa player with any previous experience in an NCAA game, added 10.
Nov. 28, 2019 - Iowa 72, No. 12 Texas Tech 61 (Last Vegas Invitational) - The Hawkeyes bested the reigning national runners-up in a physical game that saw Luka Garza post 17 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks, four stitches and a bloody nose. Jordan Bohannon led Iowa with 20 points, including eight straight free throws down the stretch.
Jan. 10, 2020 - Iowa 67, No. 12 Maryland 49 - Coming off one of the toughest nights of his career, Joe Wieskamp scored 26 points and made five of nine triples. In a loss at Nebraska in the previous game, Wieskamp had made just one of 10 attempts from 3. Wieskamp added 11 rebounds and four steals against the Terps.
Jan. 17, 2020 - Iowa 90, No. 19 Michigan 83 - With Iowa’s lead down to one point, Ryan Kriener’s eighth three-pointer of the season with 3:05 to play gave his team a winning jolt down the stretch. Luka Garza had 33 points, C.J. Fredrick 21 and Joe Wieskamp 20. But Kriener’s 14 points, including that clutch triple, were key to the victory.
Jan. 22, 2020 - Iowa 85, No. 24 Rutgers 80 - The Scarlet Knights came into the game leading the Big Ten in defense, but the Hawkeyes scored a season-high 85 points. Luka Garza had 28 of them, along with 13 rebounds. Joe Wieskamp added 18 points.
Feb. 2, 2020 - Iowa 72, No. 19 Illinois 65 - The 18th-ranked Hawkeyes won their 10th straight game at home with a late 17-3 run. Luka Garza scored 25 points and added 10 rebounds as Illinois saw its seven-game winning streak end.
Feb. 20, 2020 - Iowa 85, No. 25 Ohio State 76 - The 20th-ranked Hawkeyes started the game with an 18-3 run, including three 3-pointers in four attempts, and won for the ninth time in 12 games. Luka Garza scored 24 points. It was his 12th straight game of scoring 20 points or more, the longest streak of any Hawkeye player in 49 years. Iowa also got a big boost off the bench from Bakari Evelyn, who scored 15 points.
Feb. 29, 2020 - Iowa 77, No. 16 Penn State 68 - Luka Garza missed 13 of 16 shots in the first half. But he made eight of 12 shots in the second half and finished with 25 points. He added 17 rebounds, seven of them on the offensive glass.
Dec. 8, 2020 - Iowa 93, No. 16 North Carolina 80 - The third-ranked Hawkeyes got just 16 points from Luka Garza, the first time he’d been held under 20 in 20 games. Garza didn’t score in the final 10:52 of the game. But Iowa won the Big Ten/ACC Challenge game from long distance. Jordan Bohannon, Joe Wieskamp and CJ Fredrick combined to make 17 of 30 three-pointers.
Dec. 29, 2020 - Iowa 87, No. 19 Northwestern 72 - Jordan Bohannon went into the game struggling with his shot. But the Wildcats were the cure. Bohannon made six of nine three-pointers, five in the second half, and scored 24 points in the victory.
Jan. 12, 2021 - Iowa 77, at No. 14 Rutgers 75 - Luka Garza scored 13 straight Hawkeye points down the stretch, and 25 for the game. Iowa was down by seven points on three occasions in the second half. Freshman Keegan Murray’s two free throws with :14 to play gave the Hawkeyes the lead for good.
Jan. 10, 2021 - Iowa 86, No. 16 Minnesota 71 - Luka Garza scored 33 points, with a little assist. Ten of his 13 field goals came on dimes delivered by Jordan Bohannon, who finished with 14 of them. That was just two shy of Cal Wulfsburg’s 1976 school record. Garza, Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp combined for 72 points, outscoring the Gophers by one.
Feb. 10, 2021 - Iowa 79, No. 25 Rutgers 66 - Joe Wieskamp turned in one of the best games of his Hawkeye career, scoring 26 points, including five 3-pointers in seven tries, adding 10 rebounds and not committing a turnover in 35 minutes on the floor.
Feb. 18, 2021 - Iowa 77, at No. 21 Wisconsin 62 - Luka Garza scored 30 points, Joe Wieskamp made five triples, Keegan Murray grabbed 12 rebounds and Iowa made eight straight shots in a pivotal stretch of the second half.
Feb. 28, 2021 - Iowa 73, at No. 4 Ohio State 57 - Down at halftime, 42-28, the Buckeyes opened the second half on a 14-2 run to close within two points. But No. 12 Iowa fought off the comeback as Luka Garza had 24 points and 11 rebounds and Joe Wieskamp nailed five 3-pointers in a 19-point effort.
March 7, 2021 - Iowa 77, No. 25 Wisconsin 73 - The fifth-ranked Hawkeyes earned a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament with a fast finish. Playing the second half without Joe Wieskamp, who injured an ankle, Iowa reversed a 58-56 deficit by scoring 21 points in the final 4:54. The Hawkeyes scored on 10 of their last 11 possessions. Luka Garza finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds.
Feb. 19, 2022 - Iowa 75, at No. 18 Ohio State 62 - Playing two days after a disappointing 84-79 loss to Michigan at home, the Hawkeyes fell behind by 11 points early in the game at Columbus. But Coach Fran McCaffery called a timeout and his team responded. Keegan Murray scored 10 straight Iowa points to cut the deficit to one point. He scored 20 of his 24 points in that opening half. Keegan and Kris Murray scored 15 of the Hawkeyes’ final 24 points. Connor McCaffery’s triple with 1:44 to play sealed the deal.
March 13, 2022 - Iowa 75, No. 9 Purdue 66 (Indianapolis, Ind.) - The Hawkeyes, picked ninth in the Big Ten preseason poll, finished on top by winning four games in four days in Indianapolis, Ind. Iowa’s first Big Ten Tournament title since 2006, when the league had 11 teams, came against a team that had won both regular-season games. Keegan Murray scored 19 points and added 11 rebounds. His final basket came on a dunk with :51 to play after tracking down Connor McCaffery’s full-court in-bounds pass. After a 7-0 Purdue run cut Iowa’s lead to 63-62, McCaffery’s three-point play at the 2:42 mark righted the ship and reversed momentum for good.