IOWA CITY — Iowa could re-enter the top 10 of Associated Press’ men’s basketball rankings Monday morning, but will be the underdog in its next two games.
This will be the most-challenging week of the Hawkeyes’ schedule, which was reconfigured last Friday.
On Thursday, Iowa plays at No. 3 Michigan, the Big Ten leader that cemented its status as the league’s top team by winning at No. 4 Ohio State Sunday, 92-87. Iowa-Michigan is at 6 p.m.
Next Sunday afternoon, the Hawkeyes turn around and play Ohio State in Columbus.
“It’s going to be fun,” Hawkeye senior guard Jordan Bohannon said. “We’re going to be ready Thursday and looking forward to it.
“We signed up at Iowa to play in these types of games to change the program. This is another way to push the needle forward, to be able to play on national television against two very great teams this next week and be ready to play.”
Iowa originally was to play at Michigan on March 4. The Big Ten moved it and other games around last week.
“We’ve been talking about this all summer as we started to finalize what the schedules were going to look like at the beginning of the season,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “We left some time at the end knowing somebody was going to be on pause, we’re going to have to squeeze some games in, going to have to move games. So that’s what we did.
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“You just get the call ‘Hey, you’re going to play Michigan Thursday.’ We were going to play Michigan anyway. So what difference does it make when we play them?”
The next two games will mark the first time Iowa has played top-10 teams back-to-back since the 2012-13 season when it lost to No. 5 Indiana and No. 2 Michigan a week apart.
Michigan is 16-1 overall, 11-1 in the Big Ten.
“They’re really good,” McCaffery said. “They’re going to be good no matter when we play them.”
Ohio State is 18-5 and 12-5. The Buckeyes defeated Iowa 89-85 in Iowa City on Feb. 4. They had won seven straight games before losing to Michigan. They play at Michigan State Thursday night.
The Hawkeyes will close the regular season with home games March 4 against Nebraska and March 7 against Wisconsin.
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