What we learned from Iowa’s 93-67 victory over Northwestern on Thursday:
-- The Hawkeyes can win without head coach Fran McCaffery. It’s doubtful they would have won by any more than 26 points had Fran not been serving a one-game suspension for his tirade at Wisconsin. That doesn’t mean McCaffery isn’t important to the team. On the contrary, it says something about the quality of the program he has built that the players and assistant coaches know what they’re supposed to do and can carry on in his absence.
-- Melsahn Basabe is alive and well in Iowa City. The 6-foot-7 senior had one of his best games of the season Thursday, collecting 16 points (on just five field goal attempts) and 10 rebounds. As Basabe quite accurately pointed out, it’s not that he has declined as a player since averaging 11.0 points per game as a freshman. It’s just that his role has changed. He’s not counted on to be a big scorer any more. Teammate Aaron White admitted he was making a conscious effort to get the ball to Basabe on Thursday to help him reach 1,000 points for his career in the game. Maybe it’s something the Hawks should do more of.
-- Northwestern is not very good. In fact, it seems almost certain the Wildcats are the worst team in the Big Ten. They are playing very hard for first-year coach Chris Collins and even showed a bit of a nasty streak at times Thursday. But the personnel just isn’t there. The Cats have two, maybe three, players who could make Iowa’s 10-man rotation.