IOWA CITY — Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said Tuesday his program will compete against better non-conference competition as the team continues to improve.
McCaffery said he’s talking with schools from the Pac-12, Southeastern and Big 12 conferences about potential games but nothing is finalized.
“We’re always going to play Iowa State, who is going to be good,” McCaffery said. “We are always going to play the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and now we have the Pac-12 situation. You’re typically going to play in a tournament of some sort, whether it’s Maui or the Paradise Jam where there’s always going to be good teams.”
The Hawkeyes (13-12) rank 179th in non-conference strength-of-schedule this season. Iowa’s annual round-robin among the four schools appears to be going away in favor of Iowa and Iowa State each playing one game against either UNI or Drake, likely at Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Arena. Nothing yet is official about the classic or whether the schools not playing in Des Moines would meet on campus.
“We are going to play the other game in Des Moines either against Drake or Northern Iowa,” McCaffery said. “OK, after that how much does that leave you? Well, you’ve got a little bit of flexibility now, and, OK, if we’re really, really good, let’s play Kansas, Arizona, teams like that. If not, then you back it down a little bit and give yourself a chance to get some momentum, get some wins and develop your young guys.
“It’s great to take them all on, but if you have a lot of young players, sometimes you can ruin confidence early.”
McCaffery also talked about the cost of paying teams to play Iowa. According to figures supplied by the University of Iowa to SourceMedia Group via the state’s open-records law last December, Iowa paid $428,000 in guarantees to five game opponents and one exhibition opponent this year.
“A lot of times you have to pay more when you need a certain game on a certain date,” McCaffery said. “And you just start communicating. I think it’s the worst part of this profession, it’s unfortunate. I would prefer they put it into a computer and say, this is who you’re playing and be done with it, but that’s not going to happen.”