It is with a heavy heart that I bring you the last of these “Know Your Iowa Basketball Opponents.”
After Iowa’s game against Coppin State Saturday afternoon, it’s nothing but Big Ten. You know, serious competition.
So it is that we bid this feature adieu. We laughed, we cried. And that was just watching South Carolina State Wednesday night.
Ah, the roll call of rum-dums. Through Wednesday, Coppin State was 274th in the Sagarin Ratings of the 347 Division I teams. That puts the Eagles ahead of Howard (294th), Texas-Pan American (319th) and South Carolina State (337th), all of whom graced the Carver-Hawkeye Arena court since this season began.
Slightly higher up the totem pole but a long way down from No. 33 Iowa is Central Michigan (168th), South Dakota (234th) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (269th).
Iowa will be 11-2 after it beats Coppin State. It is 1-2 against teams in Sagarin’s Top 100.
So, let’s get to Saturday’s sacrificial lambs, the Eagles from Baltimore.
Ron “Fang” Mitchell is Coppin State’s coach. He is in his 27th season at the Baltimore school of 3,875 students, with a career record of 412-382. Included is a 1997 NCAA Tournament win over South Carolina when Fang’s Eagles were a No. 15 seed and South Carolina was a No. 2. That was sweet.
This season? Not so sweet. Coppin State is 3-9, though it has won two of its last three outings, against Maryland-Baltimore County and Towson. Coppin played at Indiana on Dec. 1, and lost 87-51.
The MEAC’s NCAA representative last season, Norfolk State, defeated Missouri in the first round of the NCAAs. Like Coppin State of ’97, Norfolk State was a No. 15 seed. And so was Hampton in 2001 it stunned Iowa State.
But this season? All of the MEAC’s 13 teams have losing records. All of them.
Coppin State’s home arena is called the Physical Education Complex. I will always root for a major-college basketball team that has a home gym called the Physical Education Complex. For that matter, I will always root for a MEAC team against a big boy. But I will almost always be disappointed.
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