Iowa Hawkeyes safely in the 2023 NCAA Tournament in Joe Lunardi’s summer Bracketology

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It’s never too early to start thinking about next year!

While we are nowhere near the start of the 2022-23 men’s college basketball season, it’s still right in season for ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi to start piecing together his March bracket.

In his most recent version of Bracketology, Iowa is in with one of the last four byes of the tournament, landing as the No. 10 seed in the East region. The Hawkeyes’ opening date would be against seventh-seeded Saint Louis with a likely date against No. 2 seed Texas looming after that.

Iowa is one of seven Big Ten teams that Lunardi currently has making the Big Dance. That’s tied for tops nationally of any conference according to Lunardi’s projections, joining the Big 12, Big East and SEC as seven-bid leagues.

In addition to Iowa, Lunardi has No. 7 seed Purdue and No. 8 seed Ohio State in the West region, No. 6 seed Illinois and No. 8 seed Michigan State in the East region and No. 4 seed Indiana and No. 7 seed Michigan in the South region.

For the Hawkeyes, Lunardi is expecting a bit of regression from the past two seasons. Iowa was a No. 2 seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament and a No. 5 seed last year entering March Madness after winning the Big Ten Tournament title over Purdue, 75-66.

Over the past two seasons, Iowa basketball has lost their star player. Luka Garza was possibly the greatest player in Hawkeyes history, a two-time Big Ten Player of the Year and consensus All-American. He graduated on to the NBA at the end of the 2020-21 season.

Then, Keegan Murray broke out and was also a consensus first-team All-American. He also probably should have been won the Big Ten Player of the Year last year. Instead, he goes down as Iowa’s highest-ever draft pick, going fourth to the Sacramento Kings in the 2022 NBA draft.

That’s two straight years that Iowa has to replace a historic player. While that’s routine for a team like Duke that rules the top-10 player recruiting list every year, it is a tough task for a team like Iowa. There are a lot of returning pieces coming back, including potential breakout star Kris Murray.

“Well, first of all, I’m really excited for him. First time in his life that he hasn’t played with his brother. He accepted the challenge of coming back,” Head Coach Fran McCaffrey said in a recent interview about the returning Murray. “As I said before, he bet on himself. A lot of guys, if they have a two-way, they take it. He could’ve gone to a two-way if he wanted, but he wanted to come back. He loves his teammates and he wants the responsibility that’s going to be placed on him. And he’s ready for it, he’s worked hard for it and I’m excited for him.”

The Hawkeyes open their 2022-23 season on Nov. 7 at home against SWAC opponent Bethune-Cookman.

List

Everything Iowa Hawkeyes' Fran McCaffery had to say in previewing his 2022-23 roster

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Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball's projected 2022-23 starting lineup, key reserves

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