The great Eminem once said you only get one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you’ve ever wanted. Well, this season at least, this is the only chance the Hawkeyes will get to beat the No. 1 team in the country on their home floor. The last time the Hawkeyes played a No. 1 opponent was in 2020 against Gonzaga, albeit on a neutral floor.
The last time the Hawkeyes beat a No. 1 team was Michigan State at home in 2015. Away from Carver-Hawkeye? You have to go back to 1999, when the Hawkeyes thwarted UConn in the season opener in Madison Square Garden. How about an official road game? You have to go all the way back to 1965, when the Hawkeyes took down Gail Goodrich and the No. 1 ranked UCLA Bruins.
Sixth year senior guard Connor McCaffery hasn’t seen quite that much, but he started that game against Gonzaga. He was also on last year’s team that fell to No. 2-ranked Purdue in Mackey Arena.
“It’s fun, it’s an added level of intensity,” McCaffery said. “And there’s another storyline added to the game and I think that it’ll be something that [Fran] mentions, like, ‘Hey, guys, by the way not a lot of teams get a chance to beat the number one team on the road.’ And that’s just the reality of it. I would be shocked if we didn’t at least get a hint of it.”
Coach McCaffery didn’t give the Boilermakers any bulletin board material, not that they need it after losing to Indiana this past weekend. Purdue’s only lost two games this season, and just one on their home floor. Whether or not Fran gives his team an inspirational speech behind closed doors, he paid Purdue their dues ahead of the game.
“I think at this point, anybody that plays Purdue has tremendous respect for that team,” Fran said. “Coach Painter and the players they have. Everybody knows who they have. Tough place to play; everybody knows that, too.”
The unranked Hawkeyes have a few wins this season against ranked foes. They beat No. 20 Iowa State and No. 15 Indiana on their home floor. Iowa has no road wins over Top 25 teams, although they did beat Rutgers, who’s currently ranked No. 24. A road win over Purdue would certainly be something to add to Iowa’s 2023 resume.
“We know that they’re the number one team in the country and we want to go in there and beat them at their place,” Iowa forward Filip Rebraca put bluntly. “I feel like that’s not just for the media, it’s good for our resume and it’s a pride thing. So I feel like if we can get that done, that’s going to really boost our egos going forward.”
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