Fran McCaffery heading home as Hawkeyes take on Penn State

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The Hawkeyes will open up the new year in one of the most historic venues in college basketball: The Palestra in Philadelphia.

It opened in 1927 and was the place Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery played his college ball at Penn. Needless to say, it’s going to be a special homecoming for McCaffery and his family.

“You know, my memories are a little bit different because it starts with my mom and dad bringing myself and my brother to games when we were kids, like young,” McCaffery said. “You want to sit up in the student section, you want to watch the games, you want to throw streamers, watch the really good players, maybe get to meet them. I’ve seen great high school games there, great players after I became a coach. I saw Kobe Bryant play there, Wilt Chamberlain has played there. You know, I’ll have a lot of family and friends there, my college coach is going to be there. A lot of those types of things.”

“My uncle has covered a million games there,” Iowa sophomore guard Connor McCaffery said. “My grandpop used to be a security guard there, so I’ve heard stories about pretty much everything. How they used to sneak into games, where the secret doors are, like I’ve heard it all. So having that kind of knowledge about the arena and then getting to go and actually play in it and see it first hand, actually being on the court, is something that will definitely be something to remember.”

Saturday’s matchup will be the just the second time that the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes have played when both teams were ranked in the Top 25. The other was in 1997 — which was a Penn State victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

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