We get two Final Four favorites on Monday, which means today might not be that competitive. Here are the one-on-one rules:
- shoot for first possession
- alternating possessions
- play to 15, must win by 2
- 3s are worth 3 points
Bryce Cartwright over Zach McCabe 15-12 (60-40)
Dean Oliver over Cordell Pemsl 15-1 (96-4)
Nick Baer over Brody Boyd 15-4 (87-13)
GAME ONE: No. 2 Roy Devyn Marble vs. No. 15 Andrew Brommer
The McCaffery Era Iowa teams have been marked by hierarchy: An alpha, a plan 1-A, and a supporting cast. It's to the point where we frequently refer to McCaffery teams as "The [Insert Guy Here] team." The Aaron White team. The Peter Jok team. The Luka Garza team.
Matt Gatens and Bryce Cartwright were probably the first two That Guy teams, but the first That Guy team to break through was The RDM Team. After going to the NIT title game in 2013, Marble finally led the Hawkeyes back to the NCAA Tournament in 2014. He did it by averaging 17 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals per game. RDM was fifth in the Big Ten in usage, 14th in minutes played, 17th in offensive efficiency and 19th in effective field goal rate, playing much of the season as an oversized point guard. Even though Marble wasn't a McCaffery recruit, he might well be the most complete player of the McCaffery era.
Andrew Brommer was a big ol' galoot that overlapped Lickliter and McCaffery. On the one hand, he never averaged more than 3 points per game. On the other hand, he's 6'9", 250 pounds, and didn't leave when his coach got fired, so much respect.
GAME TWO: No. 3 Tyler Cook vs. No. 14 Connor McCaffery
Cook, a high school teammate of Jayson Tatum, was at least the second-best player on the team the moment he walked into Iowa City. He'll be remembered most for thunderous dunks on the heads of prominent defenders, but Cook understood how to use his obscene athleticism efficiently. In his last two years, that became using his speed and strength as a cro-magnon James Harden, attacking defenders and getting to the free throw line at will. He was among the nation's best at drawing fouls both years, and the counting stats reflected it: 15 points and 7 rebounds per game both seasons. He was one consistent outside jumper away from becoming transcendent.
Connor McCaffery's obviously in the midst of his career, but his 2019-20 season was promising. The coach's son emerged as the surest distributor in college basketball, leading the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio and going weeks without turning the ball over. He also shot a respectable 34 percent from three, and was 12th in the Big Ten in offensive efficiency despite shooting only 35 percent from the field.
GAME THREE: No. 1 Adam Haluska vs. No. 16 John Lickliter
Haluska transferred to Iowa after spending one season in Ames; like Uthoff after him, he was the missing piece on a team that took off. Haluska scored 14 points per game for the 2004-05 Hawkeyes that snuck into the NCAA Tournament, and followed it with 14 per game again for the 05-06 team that won the Big Ten Tournament. When Brunner and Horner left, Haluska took off: He led the Big Ten in scoring as a senior, dropping 20.5 per game and singlehandedly keeping Iowa afloat as Steve Alford hunted around for a lifeboat.
John Lickliter was a walk-on who became the enduring symbol of his dad's time as head coach. By the third year of Senior Lickliter's tenure, everyone on the team was gone or leaving. Suddenly, Iowa needed a point guard, and John Lickliter went from the end of the bench to the consistent rotation. Iowa went 10-22 that year, 4-14 in the Big Ten, and that was it for Lickliter. Unfortunately, it was John -- who never intended to play and only saw the court in an emergency -- that became the face of that three years.