No team in America has seen its stock and seed drop through the floor in the past month like Iowa.
The Hawkeyes lost to 15-18 Illinois on Thursday afternoon in the Big Ten quarterfinals. The 68-66 final puts Iowa at 21-10 on the season and continues a vexing tailspin. It’s been a dramatic drop-off as of late for a team that was in the top 10 nationally and competing for a No. 1 seed in late January.
Now? The Hawkeyes have lost five of their last six and six of their last seven. Some of those losses have come against Penn State and Ohio State. Something is amiss, and perhaps this is not fixable this season. Peter Jok had 29 points, and All-American candidate Jarrot Uthoff added 21, but Iowa got almost nothing else from anyone.
It’s troubling. Two-man teams don’t fare well in March.
It wasn’t as if Illinois played lights-out. The Illini shot 45 percent and had 14 turnovers. It was a bad game overall. For Iowa fans, this is 2014 all over again, when a strong start ended with a whimper. The team petered out, got sent to Dayton for the First Four and promptly lost to Tennessee.
On Thursday, Iowa was down double digits in the second half before making a rally. Then a play broke down in the closing seconds. Afterward, Fran McCaffery, coach of Iowa, was not happy in the postgame presser.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery was pretty testy postgame. pic.twitter.com/9Rmn4AzKTN
— Jeff Rabjohns (@JeffRabjohns) March 10, 2016
It’s understandable for McCaffery to have frayed nerves at this point. He’s got a good team that’s not performing nearly at the level it should be. Coming into the day, Jerry Palm had Iowa as a 6 seed. Seeing the Hawkeyes pop up in the 8/9 game come Sunday would not be a surprise. If anything, the team might need something to really pulse it to life. Perhaps a bad seed could do it.