We got a chance to see just what kind of a homecourt advantage Carver-Hawkeye Arena can be on Friday night.
The Iowa basketball team drew its first sellout crowd of the season and a loud, active, exuberant throng urged their team on to a surprisingly lopsided 74-59 victory over No. 5-ranked Michigan.
After the game, the fans flooded onto the court and celebrated with the players.
Fifth-year senior Nicholas Baer took to Twitter to say: “The most fun I’ve ever had at Carver. Bar none.’’
The Hawkeyes may not get another sellout this season — their opponents for the last four home games aren’t that enticing — but there is no question that fan support for the program has rebounded this season after four straight years of declining attendance.
Iowa has averaged 12,690 fans for the first 14 home games, marking the first increase over the previous season since 2013-14.
Attendance reached its peak in the Fran McCaffery era that season when the Hawkeyes drew an average of 14,976 fans per game. The following season it dropped to 14,101, then went to 13,835 in 2015-16, 12,548 in 2016-17 and 12,026 last season.
Their season average should continue to climb in the last month of the regular season although none of those four remaining games are close to selling out.
According to Pam Finke at the university’s athletic ticket office, there are about 4,200 tickets remaining for Sunday’s home game with Northwestern, 5,000 for a Feb. 19 game with Maryland, 2,600 for the Feb. 22 clash with Indiana and 3,200 for a March 2 Senior Day meeting with Rutgers.
Even if those games don’t draw capacity crowds, we should see more lively atmospheres the rest of the way.
Having a team that could end up winning 10 more regular-season games than it did a year ago will do that for you.
Joe honored again: Even though the Hawkeyes only played one game last week, Joe Wieskamp was named the Big Ten freshman of the week for the second time in three weeks.
Wieskamp collected 16 points, seven rebounds and a career-best five steals in that victory over Michigan.
Carsen Edwards of Purdue was named the player of the week. He averaged 27.5 points in a pair of victories, including 38 in an overtime conquest of Penn State, as the Boilermakers moved into a three-way tie for first place with Michigan State and Michigan.
Back in Top 25: After falling out of the Associated Press Top 25 last week, Iowa jumped right back into the No. 20 slot by beating Michigan.
The Wolverines only dropped two notches to No. 7 while Michigan State was ninth, Purdue 15th, Wisconsin 19th and Maryland 24th.
No other Big Ten teams received any votes. Not even 16-6 Minnesota, which has beaten Iowa and Wisconsin and given Michigan and Purdue tough battles in recent weeks.
Getting ready: The Iowa baseball team holds its preseason media day today and is scheduled to play its first game a week from Friday, but Connor McCaffery knows it will be least six weeks before he plays in a game.
However, while he is finishing out the season with the basketball team, the redshirt freshman is getting ready for his next season.
The son of basketball coach Fran McCaffery has been getting in some swings in the batting cage between basketball practices, sometimes as many as two or three times a week depending on the schedule.
McCaffery, a lefthanded hitting first baseman-outfielder, recently was rated the No. 7 prospect in the Big Ten for the upcoming baseball draft by d1baseball.com.
“I don’t know what to think of it,’’ he said when asked about the high ranking. “I’ll take it for what it is. I just need to go out and play well. I haven’t played in a Big Ten game yet. Obviously, I had a pretty good fall and people think highly of me. That’s nice, but I need to go out and prove it.’’
Rare feat: When Michigan point guard Zavier Simpson had 11 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists last week against Ohio State, some were surprised to learn that it was only the sixth triple-double in Michigan history.
Actually, it’s not a very common occurrence at the college level. Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ has two triple-doubles this season but those are only the second and third ones in Badgers history. Juwan Morgan’s triple-double in December was only the second one ever by an Indiana player.
Iowa never has had one.
Former Moline star Acie Earl probably came the closest to doing it. Early in his junior season in 1991-92, Earl collected 12 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots against Maryland-Eastern Shore. In the final game of that season, he had 19 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks in an NCAA tournament loss to Duke.