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There’s every reason for optimism for Iowa men’s basketball, but here’s what Hawkeyes are up against in Big Ten

Mike Hlas, CR Gazette –

It feels like people who support the Iowa Hawkeyes men’s basketball team are expecting an explosion of goodness this winter.

Well, that’s overstating it. But fans — and some of us who cover the team — are expecting another leap forward for the Hawkeyes. And, I believe, with good reason.

However, it’s well-known that the Big Ten looks like the Big Kahuna in college hoops this season. The AP preseason poll has it this way: 1. Indiana, 4. Ohio State, 5. Michigan, 14. Michigan State, 23. Wisconsin.

Minnesota and Northwestern probably will be pretty good, too.

On, Pat Forde lists college basketball’s 25 most intriguing players for the coming season. If you wrote the piece six weeks from now, you’d probably have 15 different players on the list, minimum, but that’s not important. What I found interesting is that five of those players were from the Big Ten, and two of them weren’t obvious selections.

Number 1, and not a surprise, is Indiana center Cody Zeller. This guy could have a monster season.

Note that Forde said “interesting,” not the best.

No. 8 is Minnesota forward Trevor Mbakwe. No. 9 is Ohio State forward DeShaun Thomas, who like Zeller and Michigan guard Trey Burke, is a first-team AP preseason All-America.

In at No. 14 is Michigan freshman center Mitch McGary. The Wolverines have a guard court as fine as any in the nation. If the 6-foot-10, 262-pound McGary lives up to his potential, Michigan will be several handfuls.

And No. 23 is another freshman, Michigan State guard Gary Harris.

Iowa fans are excited about their freshman point guard, Mike Gesell, and with good reason. But this league has plenty of other good frosh. Indiana freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell didn’t make Forde’s list.

You can finish in seventh-place in the Big Ten this season and make the NCAA tournament. Maybe eighth-place.

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