Hey there, friends. Let's take a brief break from getting ready for football season to think about that men's basketball, which could be a very special season thanks to the return of Luka Garza. There are some early bracketology projections and they are quite favorable to our beloved Hawkeyes.
First up, Joey Brackets himself, Joe Lunardi at ESPN, who has Iowa as a 2-seed in the South regional. Lunardi has no Big Ten teams as 1-seeds, but a pair (Iowa and Wisconsin) as 2-seeds. His four 1-seeds are Gonzaga, Villanova, Baylor, and Virginia. Lunardi's mock bracket has Iowa slotted against Siena, Fran McCaffery's former team, in the first round. That would certainly give beat writers something to write about for a few days. He has Creighton as the 3-seed in that regional, setting up a potential Sweet 16 showdown between the Hawkeyes and Bluejays that could be one of the highest-scoring games of the NCAA Tournament if it happened given the projected offensive proficiency of both squads. Baylor is the 1-seed in that regional; an Elite 8 matchup with the Bears could give Iowa an opportunity to make their first Final Four since 1980 (and avenge that 2014 NIT Championship Game loss).
Meanwhile, over at NCAA.com, Andy Katz also has Iowa as a 2-seed, albeit in the Midwest regional. (The Midwest regional final is currently slated for Minneapolis, so if Iowa was placed in that region, potential Sweet 16 and Elite 8 would be just a hop, skip, and a jump away for Iowa fans. That said, it's difficult to say now if the current regional sites will still be used next spring, or if fans will be allowed to attend the games.) Katz also ranks his Top 10 seeds and places Iowa at #5, tops among the 2-seeds and just behind Illinois at #4 overall and the lowest of the 1-seeds. If next season Iowa and Illinois are battling for bragging right, the Big Ten championship, and a potential 1-seed? Well, let's just say the Iowa-Illinois rivalry will be back with a vengeance if that's the case. Katz has Iowa slotted against Wright State in the first round and with potential matchups against Duke (in the Elite 16) and Villanova (in the Elite 8). Those would be some extremely high-profile games for the Hawkeyes.
There's plenty to do between now and then, both on the court and off, but as these bracket projections suggest, next spring could be an exhilarating time for Iowa basketball. There's no harm in taking a moment or two to dream big.