IOWA CITY — Scheduling athletic events always involves strategy, and Thursday’s non-conference finale is no different for the Iowa men’s basketball program.
The Hawkeyes (7-5) finalized this game with Boise State more than a year when the Broncos were coming off a 15-17 season. But Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery saw Boise State more as an attention-grabbing, competitive opponent and less of an automatic win entering Big Ten play.
“The fact that it’s here, I think, makes a lot of sense because of what we have coming right after it,” McCaffery said.
Thursday’s game costs Iowa an $85,000 guarantee. It’s one of six games costing Iowa $428,000, according to documents provided by Iowa officials to SourceMedia Group via Iowa’s open-records law. Iowa also paid Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne $85,000, Northern Illinois $83,000, Brown and Central Arkansas each $80,000 and Northwest Missouri State $15,000 for the exhibition opener.
None of Iowa’s in-state games required guarantees, nor did its Big Ten-ACC Challenge game against Clemson. Iowa’s other three games were part of the Dale Howard Classic, an exempt tournament which allowed Iowa to keep the revenue from those games but give the tournament host, Global Sports Management, $180,000.
Guarantees are nothing new for college basketball or Iowa. In the 2009-10 season, Iowa paid $526,578 in basketball guarantees and $424,000 in 2008-09. But, unlike the money, nothing else is guaranteed in those games for either team. Boise State falls into that category for Iowa.
The Broncos are 9-3 and rank 14th nationally in 3-pointers made per game (8.9). They also beat Drake by 108-64 points, and McCaffery said that win caught his team’s attention.
“When you schedule games in the non-conference, you’re going to schedule certain teams that you think you can beat, and you’re going to schedule certain teams that are going to challenge you differently,” McCaffery said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt in our minds that we felt Boise was in that category. It’s a team that everybody’s heard of. They’ve got athletes, they’ve got pieces, they’ve had success.”
McCaffery put the team’s focus directly on Boise State moments after Iowa’s 41-point thrashing of Central Arkansas on Monday. He didn’t mention that Boise State has lost all three road games by double digits, including a 19-point defeat at LSU and a 17-point loss at Denver. He just wanted his team focused on Boise State.
“I think they understand this team is one of the best teams on our schedule right now,” McCaffery said.
“We’re going to prepare for Boise State and not overlook Boise State because Boise State’s a really good team,” Iowa sophomore Devyn Marble said. “They beat Drake by 44, and Drake’s a really good team. You can’t overlook any opponent.”
McCaffery also understands the rest of the season won’t have any let-up. Iowa’s first 10 Big Ten opponents have a combined record of 101-18. Only Purdue (10-3) and Nebraska (8-3) have more than two losses.
“What Boise brings is what’s coming 18 more times after (Thursday),” he said.
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