The Hawkeyes men’s basketball team has a chance at one of the best turnarounds in Big Ten history with a nine-win improvement over last season in conference games.

But you might not know that.

The 2018-19 squad also will post the most regular-season victories in Fran McCaffery’s tenure with one more win.

But you probably didn’t realize that either.

You know what Iowa radio play-by-play announcer Gary Dolphin said about Maishe Dailey on what he thought was a commercial break, though. And you know about Dolphin’s poorly-chosen “King Kong” metaphor for Maryland’s Bruno Fernando.

You also know what Fran McCaffery reportedly said to officials following Iowa’s 90-70 loss to Ohio State on Tuesday.

And without a run to the Elite Eight or beyond, the off-court drama is all you’ll remember about this year.

If the last eight days are any indication, the impressive turnaround from a 14-win, Big Ten bottom-feeder to a NCAA tournament team with 21 wins and counting will be an afterthought.

As will an undefeated non-conference record or the upset of No. 5 Michigan.

Two buzzer-beaters and a thrilling-overtime win over Indiana are now on the back burner too.

It’s shameful, especially since the players are the ones responsible for the improvement, and the middle-aged men in the athletic department are the ones detracting from a solid season.

And if you think the circus around Dolphin, McCaffery and Gary Barta is going away, think again.

Wednesday’s announcement of Dolphin’s reinstatement and McCaffery’s two-game suspension is just a band-aid on the wound. It will be reopened with Dolphin’s next mistake on a broadcast or Fran’s next tantrum or another public relations nightmare by Barta.

Maybe you enjoy the drama. Maybe you don’t.  

But it won’t work that way with the success of this season – one that will end with this program in the NCAA tournament for just the fourth time in the last 18 seasons. The improvement and achievements of this season could just as easily fall apart as be replicated next year.

This isn’t North Carolina or Kentucky or Duke.  Making the NCAA tournament is a commendable accomplishment. It hasn’t been commonplace at Iowa for two decades.

Unfortunately, it’s just going to be a sideshow to the spectacle.

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