Iowa vs. Northwestern men's basketball game postponed due to Wildcats' COVID outbreak

Kennington Lloyd Smith III
Des Moines Register

Iowa men's basketball's recent momentum was unexpectedly halted on Tuesday with an announcement that Wednesday night's game against Northwestern will be postponed.

According to a news release from Iowa athletics, the game "will not be played due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols within the Northwestern program."

At least seven available players are required to participate, and Northwestern apparently has fallen below that number.

The postponement brings an extra layer of disappointment for Iowa, as Wednesday's home contest was "Chris Street Remembrance Day" to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Hawkeye legend's death. The Big Ten Network was scheduled to feature Street's life and impact in its documentary series "The B1G Story" on Wednesday night immediately following the Iowa-Northwestern game. Instead, BTN will air the documentary at approximately 8 p.m., followed by a classic broadcast of the Iowa-Michigan game in 1993.

Fran McCaffery's squad has won four games in a row. Its next game is now 1 p.m. Saturday at Ohio State.

No makeup date was immediately set. According to the league's COVID forfeiture policy, updated in December 2021, "the competition will not automatically be considered a forfeiture. Upon review and approval by the Conference office, in consultation with the participating institutions and the Big Ten Chief Medical Officer, Dr. James Borchers, the competition may be rescheduled, or declared a no-contest or a forfeiture. The conference office will be responsible for rescheduling any conference competition postponed due to COVID-19."

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The Hawkeyes (12-6, 4-3 in Big Ten) are on a four-game winning streak after starting Big Ten play with three consecutive losses. As of Tuesday, they were in a three-way tie for fourth place with Illinois and Michigan State. The Northwestern postponement is coming at a tough time, as it was the final game of a three-game homestand. Now Iowa has two consecutive road games at Ohio State (Saturday) and Michigan State (Jan. 26). Those two games kick off a crucial stretch that includes home games against Rutgers (Jan. 29), Illinois (Feb. 4) and at Purdue (Feb. 9).

This is the second consecutive season in which Iowa has dealt with a postponement. Last season, the program had to reschedule a road game at Ohio State in February due to travel complications. The result was a rescheduling that included a stretch of three games in five days: home against Michigan (Feb. 17), at Ohio State (Feb. 19) and home against Michigan State (Feb. 22). Iowa posted a 2-1 record in those three games.

There are a few potential options to reschedule the game that jump off the page: Jan. 31 or Feb. 7. Carver-Hawkeye Arena is open on those Tuesday nights. Iowa has a six-day gap between the Rutgers and Illinois games, while Northwestern has five days between home games vs. Minnesota (Jan. 28) and Michigan (Feb. 2). The following week, Iowa would have five days between Illinois and Purdue, and Northwestern has an opening between games at Wisconsin (Feb. 5) and Ohio State (Feb. 9) before enjoying a three-game homestand.