By far the best college game on the hoops matchup on the tube for Thursday night is Iowa at Maryland, 7 p.m. on ESPN.
Iowa is the surprise team of 2015-16. The Hawkeyes didn’t enter the rankings until four weeks ago and have climbed to No. 3 thanks to a perfect 7-0 mark in the Big 10. They’ve beaten Michigan State and Purdue twice each. They actually whipped Michigan State -- 83-70 in Iowa City and 76-59 in East Lansing. Last time out, they beat Purdue 83-71.
Though Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield is prohibitive favorite, Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff is receiving some National Player of the Year talk. The 6-foot-9 senior is averaging 18.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and three blocked shots per game for a team that has won nine straight games.
If you remember, Uthoff started his college career at Wisconsin. When the former Iowa Mr. Basketball decided to transfer, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan put draconian restrictions on Uthoff’s release. Ryan blocked Uthoff from transferring to every ACC and Big 10 school and receiving a scholarship right away.
It’s one of the biggest hypocrisies in college sports, which is full of hypocrisy, as we know. Coaches can up and break contracts and go to any school that will hire them. Not so for student-athletes. An athlete decides, for whatever reason, he or she wants to move to another school -- any school that will have them -- that should be their right.
Despite Ryan’s ridiculous restrictions -- the now retired coach caught plenty of flak -- Uthoff transferred to Iowa and paid his own way his first year. And it has all worked out. This year is proof.
Meanwhile, Maryland is 6-2 in conference play, tied for third with Michigan behind Iowa and Indiana (7-1). The Terps lost at Michigan State 74-65 last Saturday despite 24 points from Melo Trimble, Maryland’s outstanding sophomore guard. Trimble is averaging 14.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Maryland has been as high as No. 2 in the AP poll. Mark Turgeon’s team is currently eighth after going 2-2 in its last four games. It lost 70-67 at Michigan before drilling Ohio State 100-65 and slipping past Northwestern 62-56 in overtime.
Here’s the list of college basketball games on television for Thursday night:
Thursday, Jan. 28
▪ 7:00 - Cincinnati at Connecticut (ESPNU)
▪ 7:00 - Notre Dame at Syracuse (ESPN2)
▪ 7:00 - Iowa at Maryland (ESPN)
▪ 7:00 - Robert Morris at Mount Saint Mary’s (CBS Sports)
▪ 7:30 - UAB at Western Kentucky (Fox Sports 1)
▪ 9:00 - Ohio State at Illinois (Big 10)
▪ 9:00 - Michigan State at Northwestern (ESPN)
▪ 9:00 - Richmond at George Washington (ESPNU)
▪ 9:00 - Oregon at Arizona (ESPN2)
▪ 9:00 SE Missouri State at SIU Edwardsville (CBS Sports)
▪ 10:00 - Washington at UCLA (Fox Sports 1)
▪ 11:00 - Loyola Marymount at BYU (ESPNU)
How Top 25 fared Wednesday
- No. 5 Texas A&M lost to Arkansas 74-71
- No. 16 Louisville beat Virginia Tech 91-83
- No. 17 Baylor beat Oklahoma State 69-65
- No. 20 Kentucky beat Missouri 88-54
- No. 21 Purdue beat Minnesota 68-64
- No. 22 Wichita State beat Loyola of Chicago 80-54