National Stage for Iowa In Spartan Showdown

By Scott Dochterman, Reporter


By KCRG Sports

IOWA CITY — Iowa’s basketball program stands at the national platform wearing a figurative cap and gown and needs only to turn its tassel to complete its turnaround.

ESPN will be there, as will a full house watching. So, too, will be their contemporaries, wondering if Iowa has what it takes to stay on the big stage. But Iowa must do more than smile and toss its hat in the air. The Hawkeyes need to grab their diploma by figuratively punching out its holder.

Standing between No. 15/12 Iowa (16-4, 5-2 Big Ten) is No. 7/6 Michigan State (18-2, 7-1), the Big Ten’s flagship basketball program. It’s the same team that’s beaten Iowa six straight. It’s the same program that sent Iowa home from three consecutive Big Ten Tournaments. It’s the same school that dealt Iowa its most excruciating loss under Fran McCaffery in last year’s Big Ten Tournament.

Iowa’s players re-watched that 59-56 defeat last spring that kept them from an NCAA tournament berth. They crumbled under the weight of turnovers — and a few controversial calls — and allowed a 13-point lead to disintegrate. It still makes the team uncomfortable, nearly a year later.

“That was tough to watch again, even though it was last year,” Iowa senior Zach McCabe said. “It showed how many mistakes we made and how close we were to winning the game. We were up the whole game until pretty much the last five minutes. That motivates us and gets us ready for this game. We don’t want to taste that loss like we did last year.”

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