Report: Hawkeyes, Gonzaga schedule basketball showdown; Iowa not confirming

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central
Luka Garza (55), Connor McCaffery (30) and the Hawkeyes could be facing Gonzaga on Dec. 19 in Sioux Falls. South Dakota.

Hours after Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery talked in mostly uncertain terms about the Hawkeyes’ upcoming basketball schedule, a CBS Sports report unveiled a potential marquee matchup on the calendar.

Again, potential matchup.

A University of Iowa spokesperson reached late Tuesday night was not willing to confirm CBS’ report that Iowa will face potential preseason No. 1 Gonzaga on Dec. 19 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. Pressed further, the university said it was deferring to McCaffery’s earlier statements on scheduling.

McCaffery earlier said during a video conference call with Iowa media that he expected a 27-game schedule, but stressed flexibility would be needed given the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A 20-game Big Ten schedule is the starting point, but that could change, McCaffery said.

“I feel pretty good about the (ACC/Big Ten) Challenge. I feel pretty good about Iowa State,” McCaffery said. “There’s other discussions going on with the rest of the schedule, some at the league level some at the local level. To be truthful, we’re looking at a lot of different options.

“There’s no way we can pin down anything right now and be definitive. I don’t think it’d be fair to talk about, ‘We really think we’re going to play these teams.’ We feel good about some of these games, but nothing’s set yet.”

CBS is the primary national TV partner of the NCAA Tournament and has been ahead of the curve on basketball reporting. There certainly seems to be smoke to the idea of an Iowa-Gonzaga showdown, at a minimum.

The Bulldogs are a perennial national power under Mark Few, but no doubt are seeking major opportunities outside the West Coast Conference. Facing off with Iowa, which is expected to be at least a top-10 preseason team nationally, if not top five, would make sense.

The Hawkeyes were originally scheduled to face Oregon State on Dec. 22 at the Pentagon, but the CBS report said that game was off. The report stated that Gonzaga's game against Iowa would replace a previously scheduled game vs. Texas Tech.

Iowa is 2-1 all-time against Gonzaga, the one loss coming by a score of 87-68 in the 2015 NCAA Tournament in the round of 32. That game in Seattle was Aaron White’s last as a Hawkeye.

Iowa is expected to have a terrific starting five of Jordan Bohannon, CJ Fredrick, Joe Wieskamp, Connor McCaffery and all-American Luka Garza. Gonzaga, led by guard Corey Kispert, according to CBS has “maybe the most well-rounded starting five in the sport” and national-title aspirations.

Dec. 19 is a Saturday and coincides with the currently scheduled Big Ten Championship Game in football. Iowa, regardless of where it finishes in the Big Ten West, would be playing a game either that Saturday or the previous night as part of the league's "champions week."