Iowans love playing and watching basketball, so it’s clear that there are some great teams in the state. Even though the state does not have an NBA team, there are still plenty of college teams to support, even some that are frequently present in the NCAA division I.
So, which are some of the best teams in Iowa that you might want to watch playing this game?
1. Iowa Hawkeyes Basketball
The Hawkeyes represent the University of Iowa and they’ve enjoyed a lot of success over the year. This program began in the early 1900s but its finest period came from the 1970s through to the 90s. They’ve taken part in almost 30 NCAA Tournaments and have won eight Big Ten conference championships.
Their solitary championship game came in 1956 when they lost to the undefeated University of San Francisco Dons. However, the Hawkeyes have made it to the final four three times, with the last one coming in 1980. They play home games at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, which has a 14,500 capacity and is also home to several other teams from the University of Iowa.
A measure of their success is the way four of the team’s head coaches have entered the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, while over a dozen players have been named All-Americans. Their best head-to-head record comes against Northwestern, with a 94-32 total.
Current coach Frank McCaffery has been in charge since 2010, and he almost led them to a memorable 2021-22 season. They finished the season with a 26–10, 12–8 record with a surprise loss to Richmond in the first round of the NCAA tournament putting an end to their hopes. Their fans will be looking forward to seeing Dasonte Bowen and Josh Dix in the upcoming season.
During the last draft, the Hawkeyes saw local talent Keegan Murray being drafted to the Sacramento Kings and he is well positioned in the odds to be rookie of the season.
According to ClutchBet sportsbook, Keegan is currently second at +500, just behind Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero.
— Iowa Men’s Basketball (@IowaHoops) September 10, 2022
2. Iowa Cyclones Basketball
Iowa State University also has an extremely popular basketball team, called the Cyclones. They play their games in the Big 12 Conference of the NCAA Division I. To see their best performance in the NCAA Tournament we need to go all the way back to 1944 when they made it to the final four before losing at that stage to Utah.
You need to head to the Iowa State campus in Ames to find the Hilton Coliseum where they play their home games. Their first season came in 1907 and among the highlights of their history was when legendary coach Maury John’ joined Drake University, but his time at the helm was to prove short-lived. Current head coach T. J. Otzelberger has been in charge since 2021 and he’s off to a strong start.
The Cyclones had a great start to the 2021-22 season, going 12-0 before number one seed Baylor finally beat them. An overall record of 22–13, 7–11 took them to the Big 12 Tournament but they lost to Texas Tech at the quarterfinals stage. At the NCAA tournament, their run ended at the sweet sixteen round, when the Miami Hurricanes beat them.
The Cyclones had a men’s team and a women’s team, and Bridget Carleton is one of the best players to come out of the program. She now plays pro basketball with the Minnesota Lynx and also for the Canadian national team. Her time at Iowa State saw her pick up a variety of awards and honors, and she remains the third-top scorer in the history of the Cyclones, with 2,142 career points.
They currently have in their team Ashley Joens, who is also a school teacher. You can read her story here.
Did everything they were asked to do.
— Iowa State Men’s Basketball (@CycloneMBB) March 26, 2022
3. Drake University Basketball
The Drake Bulldogs represent Drake University, based in Des Moines. They’re part of the NCAA Division I. Their Knapp Center venue has a seating capacity of just over 7,000 and is located on the Drake University campus.
A look back through their history reveals that 1969 was arguably their most memorable year. This was when they reached the final four of the NCAA during a period of continued success and consecutive winning seasons.
Currently, the Bulldogs’ head coach is Darian DeVries. Last season, he guided them to a 22-9, 13-5 record in the regular season before they lost to Loyola in the championship. They were the number one seed for the College Basketball Invitational but suffered a surprise defeat to UNC Wilmington in the quarterfinals. Allison Pohlman is the head coach of the women’s Bulldogs team.
Fans will be looking forward to the iconic Drake Hoops Fest on October 6. This event sees both the men’s and women’s teams playing and meeting fans in Des Moines, with a basketball court set up on the intersection where 3rd and Court Ave meet. Fans will get to see the current roster in action in a taster for the new season.
𝐋𝐞𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐧…
— Drake Athletics (@DUBulldogs) September 15, 2022
4. Upper Iowa University Basketball
The Upper Iowa Peacocks had an overall 26-6 record last season, with 18-4 in the conference. They play at the Dorman Memorial Gymnasium in Fayette, which has a capacity of 1,3338 spectators and is used for a variety of other sports as well as basketball. It was renovated in 2017 and has a new video board.
A look at the Peacocks’ social media reveals that their senior Guard Jake Hilmer is the only college player in the country to average a combination of 16+ points per game and 91%+ in free throws in the last season.
— Upper Iowa MBB (@PeacockHoops) September 15, 2022
5. Wartburg College Basketball
The team that plays in the colors of Wartburg College went 16-10 last season, with their conference results sitting at 9-7. We can also see how their season went by the fact that three Knights got All-Conference honors in March this year.
The first Drew Olson, who was born in Osage and led the team in terms of points per game, with 15.4. He also set a new program record for steals, with 81 in the season.
Jack Molstead was named to the All-Conference second team, and the junior guard earned this honor by being the second top scorer for Wartburg College, with an average of 12.4 points per game. Finally, Keegan John got an honorable mention, as the New Hampton-born player also racked up impressive totals during the season.
Looking forward to our golf outing this Friday at Prairie Links Golf Course. We still have some spots available. Would love to have you join us! #GoKnightshttps://t.co/ICA70a60to pic.twitter.com/pwJ21mzFuZ
— Wartburg Men's Basketball (@WartburgMBball) June 13, 2022
6. Central College Dutch Basketball
This season marks the return of Joe Steinkamp as the new head coach of the basketball program at Central College. In fact, there’s also a new women’s head coach, with Moran Lonning joining up. Both will make their debuts in a double-header against Waldorf College on November 8.
Based in Pella, this college has teams in several sports taking part in the American Rivers Conference of the NCAA. Their football team is perhaps best-known thanks to their long streak of winning seasons.
However, fans of the basketball team will be hoping to see them outshine the football team this season under the new coach.
One of the best times of the year!! Newcomers moved in the past 2 days and returners come back today and tomorrow. We can’t wait to get to work! 🏀 pic.twitter.com/7kq6UUkjhI
— Central Men's BBall (@CentralDutchMBB) August 21, 2022
7. Cornell College Basketball
The Cornell College Rams website confirms that they’ve had a total of 190 Division III All-Americans as well as 130 conference team champions.
Located in Mount Vernon, their athletic program has been most successfully represented by their wrestling team, with the women’s volleyball team also doing very well in recent years.
With a ram as its mascot, Cornell has both a men’s and women’s basketball team. Lisa Stone is the head coach of the female team, having previously carried out the same role at Saint Louis University. Her playing career began at the University of Iowa, where she got over 1,100 points as a point guard.
— Cornell College MBB (@CornellRamsMBB) September 5, 2022
8. Grinnell College Basketball
Grinnell College’s basketball team is known as the Pioneers and they compete in the NCAA Division III. They gained national attention in the 1980s thanks to their run-and-gun system of playing, leading to ESPN showing them as their first-ever Division III regular season. This fast-paced method, also known as the Grinnell System, has led to continued success for them.
The Pioneers have won three conference championships in the last decade, despite some claims that their breathless style of play doesn’t focus enough on defense.
Their all-action approach has also seen the team and some individual players set scoring records.
Among them, Griffin Lentsch scored a massive 89 points in a single game in 2011, including 15 three-pointers.
— Midwest Conference (@MWCSports) February 22, 2022
9. Loras College Basketball
This college in Dubuque has NCAA Division III teams known as the Duhawks in over 20 sports. Their basketball team hasn’t been as successful recently as the soccer program. but they finished the last season with a record of 18-9 and 9-7 in the conference games.
The Duhawks play their games at AWC/Lillis Court, which was renovated in 2019 and is used for volleyball and wrestling as well as basketball.
Chris Martin is the coach, and he recently welcomed Justin Busch as an assistant coach.
Beautiful day on campus today! pic.twitter.com/kmCKRFXuXE
— Loras Men’s Basketball (@DuhawkMBB) September 14, 2022
10. Simpson College Basketball
Simpson College’s basketball team, the Storm, plays out of Indianola. They’ve made it to the NCAA Tournament on six occasions, with the last one coming in 2004. Last season ended with a disappointing 5-20 record, but in the past, they were conference champions five times, most recently in 1998.
As for their list of All-Americans, this begins in 1960 with Bob Tidgren and goes through to Jesse Harris in 2003. More recently, Conor Riordan was a Jostens Trophy finalist in 2020. They recently announced that former player Kade Tatkenhorst has returned as an assistant coach.
Simpson Men's Basketball announces non-conference schedule. Great home schedule and finishing up at Daytona Beach! pic.twitter.com/za2QoAyMtf
— Simpson Mens Basketball (@SCStorm_MBB) September 19, 2022
Credits on Featured Image: Jon Fravel/Flickr