It was easy to be skeptical of Iowa after their win over No. 1 and then-undefeated Michigan State on Wednesday.
The game was played at Iowa and, more importantly, it came against a Spartan team that was playing without potential All-American Denzel Valentine. The win is always going to look great on their résumé, but whether or not one of the five best players in college basketball is on the floor greatly changes just how impressive a win truly it.
Well, there are no asterisks coming on Saturday, as Iowa erased a 19-point deficit to knock off No. 14 Purdue, 70-63.
That’s quite the statement to make.
Jarrod Uthoff led the way for the Hawkeyes with 25 points, five boards and five blocks, but he had 16 of those points in the first half; 16 of Iowa’s 20 first half points, to be specific. In the second half, the Hawkeyes started throwing a trap at the Boilermakers, who stopped being able to get the ball inside to their big men and started turning the ball over, sparking a 28-8 run over the first 13 minutes of the second half.
No one in the country had a better week than Iowa this week, and there’s an argument to be made that no one has had a better week than this all season long.
Not only did the Hawkeyes establish some legitimacy to their 11-3 record — and, in the process, help to erase the memory of that 20 point lead they blew at Iowa State earlier this season — but they landed wins over arguably the two best teams in the conference. That’s big for NCAA tournament reasons, that’s big for Big Ten seeding purposes and it means they’ll likely be relevant in the Big Ten regular season title race, at least well into February.
And it’s enormous for confidence purposes.
Remember, in Iowa’s next six games, they play at Michigan State, get Purdue at home and travel to Maryland. They’re guaranteed to go at least 2-3 in those games now.
So good for Iowa.