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Iowa men's basketball team heads back on the road where winning is close to impossible

Iowa men's basketball team heads back on the road where winning is close to impossible

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Fran McCaffery

By Pat Harty

IOWA CITY, Iowa – There is no easy place to win on the road in Big Ten men’s basketball, but some places are considered easier than others.

Northwestern, for example, probably would rank as one of the easiest places to win on the road, along with Nebraska.

But that’s only because it is close to impossible to win on the home court of the other 12 Big Ten schools, especially this season.

In 37 Big Ten games, the visiting team has won just five times.

Purdue won its 15th consecutive Big Ten home game in stunning fashion this past Sunday by dismantling No. 8 Michigan State 71-42 in West Lafayette, Ind.

So home-court advantage might be Northwestern’s biggest strength when it faces Iowa on Tuesday at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill.

The Hawkeyes are 0-3 in Big Ten games played away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena, while Northwestern won at home last Saturday, defeating Nebraska 62-57 for its first conference win.

That’s the same Nebraska team that defeated Iowa 76-70 last Tuesday in Lincoln, Neb.

“I just think the benefit is always for the home team,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said Monday on a teleconference. “And if all the teams are good then the numbers skew that way.

“I think we all know it’s difficult. I don’t care where you go, the percentages are going to be against you when you go on the road. You just have to have a certain toughness and certain mentality that we’re going to be connected and follow the game plan and we support each other and do the best we can to play well.”

Iowa has played the last two-and-a-half games without starting redshirt freshman guard C.J. Fredrick due to a stress reaction in his left foot.

Fran McCaffery addressed Fredrick’s situation on Monday and offered a glimmer of hope by suggesting that he could play some on Tuesday.

“It’s hard on him,” Fran McCaffery said. “He’s trying to do some things and see how it feels. He shot a little bit (Sunday); didn’t do much. But we’ll see how he is (Tuesday).”

McCaffery’s latest update on Fredrick was more encouraging than last Thursday when McCaffery said the situation didn’t look good. McCaffery also said last week that if the situation called for it, they would shut down Fredrick for the season.

Iowa is already without two starters for the rest of the season with senior guard Jordan Bohannon recovering from hip surgery, and with sophomore forward Jack Nunge recovering from season-ending knee surgery after appearing in just five game.

Iowa would climb to .500 in the Big Ten at 3-3 with a win on Tuesday, and then would have the luxury of playing the next three games at home where Iowa has lost just once this season.

There would be a lot to gain from winning on Tuesday’s but also a lot to lose because the rest of Iowa’s Big Ten road games appear more difficult on paper.

Northwestern is only 6-9 overall, but it’s fair to say the Wildcats are a different team at home.

The Wildcats snapped a five-game losing streak with the victory over Nebraska at home. Four of Northwestern's five losses during that stretch each came by five points or less.

 

Iowa vs. Northwestern

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Where: Welsh-Ryan Arenba, Evanston, Ill.

TV: Big Ten Network

Records: Iowa is 11-5 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten; Northwestern is 6-9 and 1-4

All-time series: Iowa holds a 118-60 advantage over Northwestern in the series. The Hawkeyes have won 10 of the last 13 meetings, including both contests last season. Iowa holds a 47-41 edge in games played in Evanston. The two teams have split the last six meetings in Evanston, dating back to 2012. The Hawkeyes won last year’s meeting in Evanston by 10 points (73-63), on Jan. 9, 2019.