Iowa-Gonzaga basketball showdown is set for national-TV audience, with fans in attendance

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central
Luka Garza, a reigning first-team all-American, will lead the Hawkeyes against Gonzaga on Dec. 19.

A matchup of men's basketball teams expected to be in the preseason top 10 nationally is officially set: Iowa vs. Gonzaga on Dec. 19 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The high-profile game was announced Monday morning by the Sanford Sports group. It will tip off at 11 a.m. CT and be televised nationally on CBS.

According to the news release, limited fan attendance will be allowed, with ticket information coming at a later date. Fans will be required to wear masks to attend the game.

On Oct. 6, CBS had reported that an Iowa-Gonzaga matchup was in the works but not finalized. Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery has said the Hawkeyes are planning a 27-game schedule for the upcoming, coronavirus-impacted season that will include at least 20 Big Ten Conference matchups. McCaffery also felt confident that Iowa would be able to have non-conference games against Iowa State and an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.

And now this matchup with Gonzaga gives the Hawkeyes, led by all-American center Luka Garza, another high-profile showdown on their slate. The Bulldogs, coached by Mark Few, are widely expected to be the preseason No. 1 team in the country with a strong nucleus returning from last year's team that went 31-2.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mark Few and what his program has accomplished for quite some time," said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, whose 2015 team lost to Few-led Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. "Adding a game of this magnitude to our schedule will be a good early test for our basketball team and prepare us for league play."

Iowa last played at the Pentagon, which has a basketball capacity of 3,250 fans, on Dec. 22, 2017, and defeated Colorado, 80-73.