Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Well, That Should Just About Do It

Iowa's pretty well cooked. Any hope of making the tournament died with this weekend's loss. And, like every year, we can all thank Michigan State for that.

The game itself was so ugly that it temporarily turned me to stone. Needless to say, it doesn't warrant much more comment. But the larger issue here is Iowa's complete inability to play in the Izzone. Look at these numbers from the past five seasons:
  • 2007 - Michigan State 81, Iowa 49
  • 2006 - Michigan State 85, Iowa 55
  • 2005 - Michigan State 71, Iowa 69 (the one time we played well)
  • 2004 - Michigan State 89, Iowa 72
  • 2003 - Michigan State 82, Iowa 54
Take out the one anomaly, and that's an average loss of 26.75. That's beyond awful. So why does this happen every year?
  • Michigan State is better - Not necessarily. There is little doubt MSU is better than Iowa this year (though Iowa won at home). But last season, Iowa finished three games better overall and better in the conference. By any standard, Iowa was the better team. Probably applies to the other seasons, though.
  • Izzo is better - This goes without saying. However, it doesn't justify a 30-point spread, especially when you consider Iowa is 3-1 at home over that same period of time against Sparty at home (ironically, the only loss was also the only season where Iowa hung tough with MSU on the road).
  • It's a bad trip - And it is. There are few places worse than Iowa in February, but Michigan is one of them. Also, this game always seems to come at the tail-end of the season, which certainly doesn't help. But it doesn't stop Iowa from playing Michigan tough, so I don't think that's it.
  • The environment is brutal - Absolutely true. Ever since the students chanted "Grandpa Settles" and "Okie-holic" in the Dr. Tom era, it's been tough to play at the Breslin. The student surround the court and never quit. It's toughter than ILLINI or Indiana. But is it disabilitating? Nobody else seems to be as bothered by playing Sparty, and nobody else seems to have near the effect on the Hawks.
I guess it's a combination of all these factors, because there isn't any real answer. Just know that it's unequivocally true: When we go there, Sparty treats us like a red-headed stepchild.

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