Let's the end the week on a nice note and talk about something good and fun and legitimately exciting about Iowa sports: have you seen the national title odds for men's college basketball for 2020-21?
Per BetOnline, Iowa hoops, at 15/2, has the second-best odds in the entire dang country to cut down the nets on April 5, 2021. Only Villanova, winners of two of the last four contested NCAA Tournaments, has slightly better odds (7/1). Iowa has better odds than historic blue bloods like Kansas (12/1), Kentucky (12/1), and Duke (14/1). They have better odds than the most recent winner of the NCAA title (Virginia, the 2018-19 champs, at 10/1). They have better odds than anyone else in the Big Ten, including perennial favorite Michigan State (16/1), annoyingly consistent Wisconsin (16/1), and Illinois (16/1), who, like Iowa, is pegged to have their best team in years next season.
As Dochterman notes in his tweet, Iowa men's basketball hasn't had odds like this to win a national title since... ever. Iowa's had some good teams over the years -- some very good teams, in fact -- and they've had teams that have entered the year with considerable hype and hope (Iowa had preseason Top-10 teams in 2001-02, 1995-96, and 1988-89, most recently), but nothing quite like this team figures to have. I don't think Iowa has ever been this much of a favored contender to win a national title in any sport, except wrestling.
Preseason hype and heady odds don't guarantee anything in terms of actual results, of course. We know that well -- those preseason Top-10 teams in 01-02, 95-96, and 88-89 didn't have their seasons end in glory, after all. Iowa will still have to go out and perform on the court and actually live up to these lofty expectations. There are absolutely legitimate questions to have about their ability to play defense at a championship level. This hype is based on the fact that they should have one of the best and most unstoppable offenses in college basketball next season, centered on the preseason National Player of the Year in the middle, who should be assisted by a bevy of long-range threats around the outside.
Still: it's fun to have nice things. It's fun to have things to get excited about. And the Iowa men's basketball team is very much something worth being excited about in 2020-21; these odds are just the latest indicator of that. (Please please please let there be a 2020-21 college basketball season.)