As we enter the fall season and college football gets underway, college basketball is right around the corner. As always, to prepare you for the season, Land-Grant Holy Land will be publishing Big Ten Team Previews and Ohio State Basketball Player Previews, starting now with the Team Previews.
Team: Iowa Hawkeyes
Head coach: Fran McCaffery, 14th Season, 258-174 (123-116)
2022-23 record: 19-14 (11-9)
All-time record against Ohio State: 68-64
Returners: Tony Perkins, Payton Sandfort, Patrick McCaffery, Dasonte Bowen, Josh Dix, Riley Mulvey
Departures: Connor McCaffery, Filip Rebraca, Kris Murray (NBA draft), Ahron Ulis to Nebraska, Josh Ogundele to Middle Tennessee
Newcomers: Pryce Sandfort, Ladji Dembele, Owen Freeman, Brock Harding, Ben Krikke from Valparaiso, Even Brauns from Belmont
The Iowa Hawkeyes are coming into this season in some uncharted waters. They will not have a Murray brother on the roster. With Kris Murray off to the NBA to joins his brother Keegan, and the Hawkeyes will have to find someone else (or two or three guys) to replace the production lost with those guys gone.
Last season, the team was led by Kris Murray, who averaged 20.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, and Filip Rebraca, who averaged 14.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Losing those two alone means the Hawkeyes will have to replace their top two contributors and players from last season.
Tony Perkins is the top scorer returning to Iowa, averaging 12.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He was a solid contributor last season, but the team heavily relied on Murray and Rebraca on offense, and now that responsibility will fall largely on Perkins and Patrick McCaffery.
Payton Sandfort is one of the more intriguing returning players in the conference. He averaged 10.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game and was the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year. The sharpshooting forward got hot towards the end of the season and will look to carry that momentum into this season.
Last season, Iowa was one of the top teams in the country on offense, ranking 18th on basketball reference, and one of the worst teams in the country on defense, ranking 304th. Improving that number on defense is important, because the offense will almost surely take a step back this season.
Pryce Sandfort, younger brother of Payton, is the main recruit coming into the program, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 99 overall recruit and No. 2 recruit in the state of Iowa. If Sandfort or any of the transfers that come in can make an immediate impact, that will be key for the Hawkeyes to take some of the pressure off Perkins and the older Sandfort.
Iowa has had some talent come through the program over the last six years since they went 4-14 in the conference during the 2017-18 season with not much to show for it.
Luka Garza, Joe Wieskamp, Keegan and Kris Murray were all top talents in the conference, and the most the team accomplished was a conference tournament championship in 2021-22, preceded by a first-round upset loss in the NCAA Tournament.
Fran McCaffery has only missed the tournament twice in 13 seasons, so they are always a threat to finish in the top half of the conference. But with their heavy reliance on stars over the past years, they will have to play more of a team and depth game this season with none of those stars on the roster. Perkins and Payton Sandfort are the two most likely guys to step up and take over the role of top scorer on the team.
Patrick McCaffery is also back, who averaged 9.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. He will be relied upon as the veteran leader of this team who can give you 14-16 points on any given night.