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Iowa hoops making sure RPI not an issue

December 5, 2013 - Andy Heintz
After playing some pretty bad competition through the first five games of the season, the Iowa men's basketball team has done a good job of building an NCAA Tournament resume worth taking a look at.

The Hawkeyes currently sit at No. 30 in the RPI, which is one of the biggest factors in deciding who makes the NCAA Tournament come March.

Last year, Iowa was one of the last handful of teams left out of the selection process and that was mainly due to an even worse non-conference schedule. Iowa had its chances last year inside the Big Ten but this year is not leaving it up to that.

Iowa already has two top 100 wins in the RPI and Notre Dame should move well above its current mark of 254. UTEP is 48th in the RPI so that 30-point win should come in handy come March. Iowa's lone loss came to Villanova, which boomed up to 14th in the national rankings this week. The undefeated Wildcats also are 5th in the RPI, which should mean that loss will not be considered "bad" in the process either.

The Hawkeyes (8-1) will get two more chances to improve their RPI in the upward direction before conference play. Iowa takes on Drake in the Big Four Classic at Wells Fargo Arena this weekend and then has to go to Iowa State as well.

Drake is 19th in the latest RPI, while the unbeaten Cyclones are 11th.

Iowa tried not to play the patsies it played in the early stages of the season but ran into some issues with scheduling. The only thing you can do after that is to beat them to a pulp, which for the most part, Iowa did.

The schedule will only get tougher. The Big Ten currently has three teams in the top 10 of the RPI and one other in the top 30.

That gives Iowa a lot more chances to make the selection process easier this March.

Find a way to knock off a few of them along the way -- and continue to beat the teams you are supposed to beat -- and the Hawkeyes should be in good shape to make their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2006.

-- Marble playing big in the clutch --

Roy Devyn Marble continues to shine when it matters most for this Iowa basketball team.

The only issue I have with that is that the Hawkeyes may need someone else to be the man when Marble starts getting keyed on.

Who would be Iowa's go-to second option? Aaron White? Jarrod Uthoff? Zach McCabe?

All three have showed moments of greatness this season. But right now, McCabe has been the most consistent. White can be dominant but then can disappear for stretches, too.

If Iowa wants to be special this season, the Hawkeyes are going to have get more consistent production from someone other than Marble.

-- Adam Woodbury is taking his lumps --

I have heard several criticisms of Adam Woodbury the past few games.

Suddenly if you are 7-1 you have to be dominant from day one or the fan base gives up on you.

The hardest position to impact right away at the collegiate and professional level is center. Only the really special centers jump right in and make a big impact.

I am not ready to give on Woodbury. He still has two years left after this one and we may still see him impact a few games on this year's slate.

Be patient. He will pay off in the end.

-- Minutes are hard to come by --

With a roster that can easily go 11 deep, Fran McCaffery is struggling to dish out minutes evenly.

I don't expect the minutes to be evenly spread out each night, but only giving Gabe Olaseni 1 minute in the second half against Notre Dame was hard to do, especially when Olaseni was one of the best Hawkeyes on the floor in the first half.

I am also stunned that Peter Jok only played three minutes in entire game. He needs to be on the floor more than that. To me, he is clearly the 9th, 10th or 11th best player on the roster, but it is crucial for the youngster's development that he gets quality, meaningful minutes in close games.

There is an art to subbing. I get that. Hopefully, McCaffery will look for some help from an assistant coach sooner rather than later.


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