Iowa Men's Basketball

Iowa men's basketball forced to adapt quickly to a postponement and a time change

No. 5 Hawkeyes had one of each within a 24-hour period this week

Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery gestures during the Hawkeyes' 89-67 win at Maryland on Jan. 7. (Nick Wass/Ass
Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery gestures during the Hawkeyes' 89-67 win at Maryland on Jan. 7. (Nick Wass/Associated Press)

After dancing around the raindrops all season, the Iowa men’s basketball team saw its schedule get real fluid real fast.

The Hawkeyes’ scheduled home game with Michigan State Thursday was postponed Wednesday night because of COVID-19 issues within the Spartans’ program. The game will be rescheduled.

On Thursday, the Big Ten changed the time of Sunday’s Iowa-Northwestern game in Evanston, Ill., from 8 p.m. to 11 a.m. The game was moved to CBS to replace the scheduled Indiana-Michigan State game in that network’s time slot.

Iowa had been able to play its first 13 games without a hitch, so perhaps the odds just caught up with the Hawkeyes. Iowa was the last of the four Division I men’s basketball teams in Iowa to have a coronavirus-related postponement.

Before Michigan State, the men’s basketball teams of Penn State and Nebraska paused activities because of the virus. Penn State has only played three Big Ten games while Iowa has played six and several others have played seven. The Hawkeyes are scheduled to host Nebraska on Jan. 24.

Just how everything can or will even out in time for the Big Ten tournament March 10-14 and the NCAA tourney the following week remains to be seen.

“I said from the beginning that we should never lock into a date for the tournament,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said Friday.

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“Because now you’ve got to squeeze games in because teams went on pause. I was against that from the beginning. If we have to play the tournament in May, you play it in May. If you play in April, play in April. But you get the games in.

“If you go on pause, you go on pause. You make the games up. The idea is to play the games.”

There has been nothing suggesting the NCAA tournament would be pushed back if needed to make such accommodations.

“Due to the restrictions that have been placed on the time that you have to get them in,” McCaffery said, “you’re going to have to play three in a week, four in seven (days), whatever. It’s just the way we’ll have to do it, I guess, if we’re just hellbent on playing that Final Four when it was scheduled.

“There’s not much I’ve complained as it relates to those in charge. Because I think that’s unfair, whether it be the college presidents or the NCAA or the athletic directors. So all I’ve ever campaigned for is flexibility. We’ve got to be flexible, we’ve got to be able to pivot. In order to do that, you need time.

“That’s why, in my opinion, the NCAA tournament and the Final Four should have been ‘to be announced.’”

McCaffery said college football suffered because it didn’t give itself more flexibility.

“It was all kinds of discussion,” he said. “How does one team get in (to the College Football Playoff) playing seven games and the other team has to play 12? Valid point.”

Well, Iowa’s 14th game is set to be played Sunday morning and we’ll see what happens after that. It’s an attractive-enough replacement for CBS on short notice given the Hawkeyes are 11-2 and ranked No. 5.

“We obviously appreciate the opportunity to be on CBS,” said McCaffery.

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“It was going to be a Monday night game, then a Sunday afternoon game, then a Sunday night game, then back to 11 a.m. It’s just a further example of ‘OK, we know what time it is, we’ll show up and play at that time.”

Comments: (319) 398-8440; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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