2015-2016 Iowa Hawkeyes Basketball Season Preview and Forecast

Previewing and projecting the 2015-2016 Iowa Hawkeyes' basketball season.

My football preview didn't even come close, obviously, and I'm sure there's many that had that same error. So, we'll give basketball a try now.

Simply put, the hoops squad could prove to be about as unpredictable as the football squad. They have a ton of talent, potentially great depth, loads of athleticism, better shooting, but they lack size in the frontcourt. 

They return talented players like Mike Gesell, Anthony Clemmons, Jarrod Uthoff, and Adam Woodbury in the starting lineup and add a legitimate scoring option in Peter Jok. So all is well, right? Well it hasn't come to fruition yet early on. The shooting has been there but the bench still needs to gain experience and become more effective. The athleticism is there but their lack of size has reared it's head in terms of foul trouble and rebounding struggles.

A lot needs to be figured out early against Gardner-Webb and Coppin State because after that comes some challenges against Marquette, Dayton, Florida State, and a possible showdown with Notre Dame. As always, they also have a non-conference tilt with the Cyclones. It's not a soft non-conference slate by any stretch. But with the Big Ten as deep as it is, the Hawkeyes need to fare well in the non-conference action to give themselves a chance to reach the NCAA Tournament.

I like what they have in their starting five. They have the depth but it's young and needs to emerge quick. Fran McCaffery wants a 10-man rotation and two of the guys on the bench that will assuredly be counted on are guard Brady Ellingson and wing Nicholas Baer. Ellingson gives them the shooting off the bench and Baer has been very productive off the bench in exhibition play.

The three others coming off the bench is still a work in process. It was believed early on that Dom Uhl would fill a role but he hasn't done enough to this point to cement a spot. If I was to guess, the next three will be freshmen Christian Williams, Ahmad Wagner, and Dale Jones. Uhl could have a hard time receiving any meaningful minutes as it appears that Wagner and Jones are a step ahead.

Andrew Fleming is another wild card. His defense is a question mark and has been a liability already. If they are struggling to score, Fleming could easily jump in and be a main contributor as he has no problems scoring the ball.

The Big Ten schedule will be demanding. Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, they only have to take on Maryland and Wisconsin once. 

Aside from that, they will still have to take on Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Purdue twice. That is a stiff challenge. 

With that kind of gauntlet, it is imperative that Iowa begins the season well if they want a spot in the NCAA Tournament. There's 19 conference games and even a 10-9 record out of that is hardly manageable. Many won't want to hear this but it will take a mighty impressive season to be slotted in the field of 64 (or 68). I do not see it happening. I feel as if they miss the NCAA Tournament just barely and are invited to the NIT.

Conference Record Prediction: 8-11

Overall Record Prediction: 17-14

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