We continue our countdown of the best Big Ten programs of the past decade. Prior articles in this series can be found here:
- Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Penn State Nittany Lions
- Northwestern Wildcats
- Nebraska Cornhuskers
- Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Illinois Fighting Illini
As a reminder, we’ll be looking at eight categories for each program. The first four are the only ones that had any bearing on the ranking:
- Big Ten regular-season winning percentage
- Number of teams finishing ahead in the Big Ten standings
- Big Ten regular season titles
- Big Ten Tournament titles
- Team of the Decade
- Player of the Decade
- Regular Season Win of the Decade
- Regular Season Crushing Loss of the Decade
The top team in the bottom half of the power rankings is the Iowa Hawkeyes. On one hand, the Hawkeyes finished below the conference median. On the other hand, they finished higher than Nebraska, Minnesota, and Illinois. There’s not a Big Ten team in a state that borders the state of Iowa that was better than the Hawkeyes in the 2010s.
Big Ten Winning Percentage
Iowa went .451 in the Big Ten over the past decade. That’s eighteen games under .500. If you just look at the Fran era (the 2010 Hawkeyes were still coached by former National Coach of the Year Todd Lickliter), that improves to eight games under .500.
Teams Finishing Ahead of Iowa
There were 56 teams that finished ahead of Iowa in the conference standings. Every team finished ahead of the Hawkeyes at one point or another except for Rutgers. Iowa never finished ahead of Michigan State, Wisconsin, or Maryland, but the Hawkeyes tied Maryland and Wisconsin at 12-6 in 2016 and tied Michigan State with the same record the year before.
Big Ten Regular Season Titles
None in the 2010s. The closest the Hawkeyes came was in 2016, when they sat at 11-2 in the league at one point, but they proceeded to lose their next four games.
Big Ten Tournament Titles
None in the 2010s. After being one of the bell cows of the BTT in its first few years, over the past ten years Iowa failed to even make the semifinals.
Team of the Decade
This is a tough one. The 2015 and 2016 Hawkeyes both made the NCAA Tournament and both advanced to the Round of 32. Both finished tied for third in the Big Ten with a 12-6 record. Amazingly, both teams finished at exactly the same spot on KenPom, No. 23. The key players were mostly the same across both teams. Aaron White graduated after 2015 and Peter Jok didn’t become Peter Jok until 2016, but apart from that both squads had the class of Uthoff, Gesell, Clemmons, and Woodbury as their anchor.
I’ll use big wins as the tiebreaker. The 2015 team won games at North Carolina and swept Ohio State. The 2016 team beat Wichita in a neutral-site game and swept both Purdue and Michigan State. We’ll give the title to the 2016 team, despite flaming out in February and March.
Player of the Decade
From 2014 through 2017, Iowa always had That One Senior one their team that was the undisputed alpha in terms of scoring and leadership. In 2014 it was Roy Devyn Marble; 2015 had Aaron White; 2016 had Jarrod Uthoff; 2017 had Peter Jok. Any of those four would be a good choice, but I’m going to give the nod to Peter Jok. Not only did he have the best career Big Ten record in modern Iowa history, but he also carried that 2017 team pretty much by his damn self. The supporting cast in earlier seasons was always solid. In 2017, the five next-best players on the team were either freshmen or former walk-ons.
Regular Season Win of the Decade
December 3, 2014.
Iowa is a good enough program and there are enough games against conference competition that seeing the Hawkeyes take down Purdue or Ohio State or Michigan State isn’t all that uncommon. Over a four-year period, I’d expect the Hawkeyes to beat all of those teams at some point along the way. There’s nobody in the Big Ten that can provide Hawkeye fans a once-in-a-lifetime kind of win.
The ACC-Big Ten Challenge is another story.
What if I told you that the Iowa Hawkeyes would win a road game against one of the country’s four true blue blood programs to seal a Challenge victory for the Big Ten?
Well, that’s exactly what happened. Iowa 60, North Carolina 55.
Regular Season Crushing Loss of the Decade
December 10, 2015.
Trigger warning—I’m about to say two words that are likely to induce rage in Hawkeye fans.
The Hawkeyes went on the road to Ames to face their in-state rivals, the undefeated Iowa State Cyclones. And the Hawkeyes looked damn good. Five minutes in, they went on a 15-2 run. It was glorious to watch. These were two teams who both wanted to play fast and score quickly, and Iowa was doing it at a higher level, on the road in one of the most raucous atmospheres in college basketball.
They led 69-54 before Iowa State rattled off a 16-2 run of their own. Suddenly it was a ballgame.
The Hawkeyes still led by three with less than a minutes left.
But you know... Hilton Magic.
Iowa State 83, Iowa 82.
Fake Internet Quote That Puts It All In Perspective
Howard Dean ended his national relevance by losing in Iowa. Barack Obama gained his by winning there. The jury’s still out on Steve Alford.