Iowa men's basketball is slated to start the 2020-21 season next month, even though we don't have much in the way of details about how they intend to play college basketball this winter. Nor we do have any sort of schedule in place to know who Iowa is set to face and when (and where) they're set to face them. But while we don't have a formal schedule yet, word broke Tuesday night about one very big non-conference game involving the Hawkeyes:
BREAKING: Another huge college hoops nonconference matchup is on the schedule. Top-five teams Gonzaga and Iowa have agreed to play each other on Dec. 19 at the Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, sources told @CBSSports. Details https://t.co/7DooxxuKLx— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) October 7, 2020
Gonzaga, perennially a hoops power under Mark Few, is once again expected to be very good this season -- they're projected to be a Top 5 team when the polls are released and both of the mock brackets we looked at earlier today slotted them as a 1-seed. Iowa is also projected to be a Top 5 team when the polls are eventually released, so this would be a massive game -- and likely one of the biggest non-conference games of the season. This game would be a big test for both teams and an early season chance to see how they stack up against one another. And -- dare we dream it? -- it could even be a preview of a potential Elite 8 or Final 4 game down the road.
Iowa has a 2-1 all-time record against the Zags, beating them in a home-and-away series in 1984 and 1985 (those would have been post-John Stockton Gonzaga squads) and losing to them in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. That '15 game is the most recent meeting of the teams; it came after Iowa had routed Davidson in the opening round to end a 15-year drought in NCAA tournament victories. Gonzaga beat Iowa 87-68 and frankly it was never really close.
This game could be especially good if you want to see high-level offense, too. Iowa of course had the 5th-best offensive efficiency rating last season (and returns virtually every player of significance), while Gonzaga had the... best offensive efficiency rating last year. The Zags will be without their best player from a season ago, sophomore Filip Petrusev, who departed to pursue professional opportunities after averaging 17.5 ppg and 7.9 rpg in 2019-20. Two other Gonzaga players, Joel Ayayi and Corey Kispert, tested the NBA Draft waters but ultimately decided to return to Gonzaga for the 2020-21 season. Ayayi averaged 10.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, and 3.2 apg last year, while Kispert was their top 3-point shooter, connecting on 44% of his attempts from deep. The Zags will also be adding 4* 7-footer Oumar Ballo after a redshirt year and 5* true freshman guard Jalen Suggs; their roster will be plenty loaded, even without Petrusev.
This will be Iowa's second game in the Sanford Pentagon arena in Sioux Falls; they beat Colorado there 80-73 during the 2017-18 season. It's unclear how many tickets (if any) will be sold for the game, but even in normal circumstances, tickets to that game would have been at a premium -- the Pentagon seats only 3250 in its regular set-up. We'll pass along any details about ticketing for this game if and when they become available.
But regardless of the ticket situation, this will be a huge game and one worth getting very excited about. Iowa. Gonzaga. LET'S GOOOOOOOOOOOOO.