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UNC Wilmington at Iowa Basketball Preview

Iowa's bid for a breakout season begins tonight versus UNC-Wilmington.

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David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

UNC-Wilmington (0-0, 0-0) at Iowa (0-0, 0-0)
9:30 PM EST
Line: Iowa -24.5
Over/Under: 150
Series Record: First Meeting
Last Meeting: n/a
Blog Representation: Black Heart Gold Pants

Iowa has became a hot topic throughout the Big Ten, with many followers of the league in debate over Iowa's odds to make the NCAA Tournament. On one side of the coin, you have people that think Iowa will push for a top four finish in the conference and make some noise in the NCAA Tournament. On the other side of things, you have almost as many fans that believe that Iowa used a weak schedule to win games last season and will likely be back in the NIT once again. The Hawkeyes quest for their first NCAA appearance since 2006 officially kicks off tonight against UNC-Wilmington, a 24.5 point underdog.

There's a reason the Seahawks of UNC-Wilmington are massive underdogs. After a 20 win season in 2007-08, the Seahawks have failed to surpass 13 wins the last five seasons and have lost 41 games the last two seasons. The Seahawks also lose leading scorer Keith Rendelman, another major blow to a team that needs some good fortune.

So will the Hawkeyes be challenged in their opener? Highly, highly unlikely. The game will likely be a stepping stone for the rest of their non-conference slate and is only important because Iowa cannot afford any major upsets throughout November and December. Many Hawkeye fans are highly excited for the basketball season this year and their opener should provide plenty of good times in what will likely be a laugher before the end of the first half. It'll be interesting to watch how the Hawkeyes shoot from outside, though, as it is one area that Iowa will need to improve at if they want to improve on last seasons end result.

Also of note, Josh Oglesby will be out for 4-6 weeks. The loss isn't a major blow for the Hawkeyes, especially if Oglesby doesn't regain his touch from outside, but injuries are never a good thing and I'm sure the Hawkeyes would like to have Oglesby back in attempt to rebuild their perimeter shooting. While Oglesby shot under 27% last year from beyond the arc, he was a 37.2% shooter from deep in his first season and could help Iowa outside if he can get it back together.