Iowa coach Fran McCaffery: Big Ten grind has its teams prepared for postseason runs

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

The Big Ten Conference Tournament is up next for Fran McCaffery's Iowa Hawkeyes.

But he, and many of his coaching peers in the league, can also look forward to appearing in the NCAA Tournament.

And McCaffery said on a Monday teleconference that he expects Big Ten teams to do well in the Big Dance because of how challenging the league has been all season.

"The beauty of our league is the quality of top to bottom. So you have to prepare every game the same way. There's going to be a level of physicality," McCaffery said. "But, that said, each team is different. When you get to the NCAA Tournament, you're going to face teams that have different areas that you have to concentrate on.

"Some are more physical. Some are more finesse. Some are more guard-oriented. Some are more post-oriented. In our league, everybody has terrific post play, great perimeter play, an excellent coach, depth, size."

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery smiles during a NCAA Big Ten Conference men's basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Iowa is 20-11 overall and went 11-9 in the Big Ten after a 78-76 loss Sunday at Illinois. The Hawkeyes are the 5 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will play at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Indianapolis against either Minnesota or Northwestern.

McCaffery believes that event will be an extension of a regular season that saw three teams (Wisconsin, Michigan State and Maryland) tie for the title with 14-6 records. The league may earn as many as 11 spots in the NCAAs. The Hawkeyes are safely in the March Madness field, currently projected as a 6 seed.

► More:Iowa men cling to top-25 ranking in final polls before NCAA Tournament bracket reveal

"It's been an incredibly competitive year. The quality of teams that we have, the quality of players and just how competitive the games have been I think bodes well for all of us moving into the conference tournament, which should be equally exciting," McCaffery said.

McCaffery, in his 10th season at Iowa, said that the grind of the Big Ten season bodes well for its teams heading into the NCAA Tournament.

"Obviously, we have to be respectful of anybody we play, because anybody that's in that tournament is really good," he said. "But I think how you have to compete night in and night out (in the Big Ten) prepares you for anything like that."

Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.

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