A '"Big Three" has powered the Hawkeyes' ongoing eight-game home winning-streak against ranked opponents—and there's no sign of them slowing down.
Iowa will be aiming to extend its home winning streak against ranked opponents to nine when it takes on Minnesota on Sunday afternoon. The Hawkeyes pushed the run to a program-record eight with an 87-72 victory over then #19 Northwestern ten days ago.
In an era where the Big Ten is perhaps the strongest conference in all of college basketball (last I checked there were 12 of the league's teams in the top 51 of the NET rankings) Iowa's impressiveness at home cannot be understated. A win over Minnesota would mark the eighth different Big Ten school to fall in Iowa City during the streak.
Iowa's recipe for success in the run hasn't been overly complicated: It has simply outplayed, out-willed, and outshot its opponents. On four occasions during the streak the Hawkeyes have made at least 50 percent of their field goal attempts, including a scorching 55.8% shooting (29-52) performance in an 85-76 win over #25 Ohio State last February.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the stretch is that none of Iowa's eight wins have finished within one possession. On five occasions, the Hawkeyes have won by fewer than ten points, the closest an 85-80 win over #24 Rutgers last January, while three of the victories were double-figure blowouts—the largest a 67-49 streak-starting triumph over #12 Maryland nearly a year ago. Coincidentally, the Terrapins handed the Hawkeyes their last home loss to a ranked opponent, a one-point defeat in 2019.
|Per Game Average||Iowa||Opponents|
|3PT FG PCT.||.426||.333|
It's no secret that Iowa's superstar during this the stretch has been Luka Garza, his 2019-20 Big Ten Player of the Year Award run being fueled by all but two of his performances in the streak, but Joe Wieskamp and C.J. Fredrick have each put together dominant stretches that would be far more notable if Garza wasn't so otherworldly.
The triumvirate has combined to average 56.9 of Iowa's 82 points and 19.2 of the the team's 34 rebounds per game during the streak. It's also important to remember that for the first six games of the run, the Hawkeyes were without Jordan Bohannon and Jack Nunge due to injury. Iowa wasn't nearly as deep last winter as it is now and it has needed Garza, Wieskamp and Fredrick to carry the load through most of the streak.
And the "Big Three" have delivered.
In the eight games Garza is averaging a double-double in the form of 23.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. The Iowa big man has scored 20+ points in all but two games—18 and 16-point efforts in this season's blowout victories over Northwestern and North Carolina respectively. Though Garza posted his smallest point total of the stretch against the Tar Heels, the senior center put up 14 rebounds to go with 16 points in what was his fifth double-double of the eight-game streak.
Though Luka's high watermark was a 33-point performance in the Hawkeyes' 90-83 win over Michigan last winter, his most complete pair of games came in the five-point win over the Scarlet Knights and a 77-68 victory over Penn State last February. Garza hit 11 of his 17 field-goal attempts in posting 28 points and 13 rebounds against Rutgers, and followed it up a month later with 25 points and 17 boards against the Nittany Lions.
Lost in Garza's ridiculous stat-lines is how important Joe Wieskamp has been throughout the Hawkeyes' eight-game roll. The Muscatine native has shot over 45 percent from three point land in averaging over 17 points and six rebounds per game in those eight wins.
|Per Game Average||Garza||Wieskamp||Fredrick (6 Gms.)|
Wieskamp has hit double-figures in scoring, as well as made at least one three-pointer, in every contest during the winning streak. And though Garza has been the nation's best player throughout the winning streak, Joe has put together a pair of dominant performances that would make even Luka blush. He scored 19 points, pulled down nine rebounds, dished five assists, and finished with a steal in the Hawkeyes' 13-point win over North Carolina last month. The junior also helped Iowa to its streak-starting win over Maryland by posting a double-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Wieskamp went 9/16 from the field, making 5/9 shots from downtown.
While Garza and Wieskamp have carried most of the load during the eight-game run, C.J. Fredrick has arguably been the Hawkeyes' most valuable player. Even though he missed two games during the streak, C.J. Fredrick's importance to Iowa's success—especially in the wake of Bohannon's absence—cannot be overlooked.
The redshirt sophomore is averaging over 16 points per contest thanks to shooting a ridiculous 61.1% from the field—including making 53.1% of attempts from beyond the arc. To hammer home just how good CJF has been in this stretch, I'll put those numbers in other terms: He's made 33/54 total shots and 17/32 three-pointers in the six games. Not bad for a 3-star recruit with only three power-five offers.
Fredrick has scored 10+ points in all but one affair, posting 21 twice in victories over the Terrapins and Tar Heels. Against North Carolina, the Hawkeye sharpshooter went 8/11 from the field and drained five of seven shots from downtown.
For as impressive as this streak has, it's not without a couple of caveats. Of the eight victories, only one, the first victory of the run over the #12 Terrapins, came against a team ranked in the Top 15. Also of note, the Hawkeyes have actually lost once at home during the streak—Purdue's 77-68 upset victory last March in Iowa City.
But the Boilermakers were unranked and Iowa's eight-straight home win streak against ranked opponents lives on heading into their meeting with the Gophers.
Eight Is(n't) Enough
Speaking of Minnesota, in addition to seeking to extend their school-record eight game winning-streak against ranked teams, #5 Iowa enters Sunday seeking *sigh* revenge for their ridiculous collapse in Minneapolis on Christmas Night.
This will be the first time since 1999 that the Hawkeyes and Gophers will tangle in Iowa City while both teams are ranked in the top-25. In that contest, #19 Iowa outlasted #22 Minnesota 76-73 thanks to 15 points from Dean Oliver and 12 each from J.R. Koch and Jacob Jaacks.
Overall, the Hawkeyes have won their last three home games against the Gophers by a combined average of 12.6 points. In Minnesota's last visit to Carver-Hawkeye Arena in December 2019, Garza, Wieskamp and Fredrick (who else?) combined to outscore the Gophers as a team, pouring in 54 points in Iowa's 72-52 romp.
In that meeting, both teams were unranked. That will not be the case Sunday as a win would not only extend the program's home winning streak against ranked teams, it would also ensure that a full calendar year will have passed without the program having lost to a ranked team in Iowa City.
A glance at the Hawkeyes' upcoming opponents (Michigan State, Indiana and Nebraska) reveals that this may be Iowa's last home contest against a ranked opponent until possibly February 4th against Ohio State or February 10th against Rutgers.
So this streak may extend at least another month... provided Iowa takes care of business against the Gophers.