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Future looks good for Big 4 hoops teams

March 29, 2013 - Andy Heintz
Each and every Big 4 men's basketball program has reason to look forward to next season.

Iowa State just completed its seconds straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and coach Fred Hoiberg agreed to a 10-year, $20 million contract today.

Iowa has advanced to its first-ever trip to Madison Square Garden in the National Invitation Tournament Final Four.

Northern Iowa is still playing as the Panthers will play in the semifinals of the tournament this weekend.

And Drake named its newest head coach -- a Gonzaga disciple -- today with last-minute press conference.

There really is no reason for fans of these four schools not to be excited about the future of their programs.

Some think ISU may take a step back after losing so many impact seniors this season. The Cyclones won't really on quite as many transfers and JUCO players than it has in Hoiberg's first three seasons. Playing more freshmen may push the expectations down a notch in 2013-14, but fans will still be confident in the program as long as Hoiberg has a cardinal and gold whistle.

The Hawkeyes perhaps have the most to look forward to from an on-court standpoint. Iowa is still playing with its large group of underclassmen. Only senior Eric May is gone from the top 10 players on this year's team.

The fans are back and the expectations are back. It's NCAA tournament next season or bust for a no longer inexperienced Hawkeye squad. They have to take that next step forward and I think they will. The Hawkeyes also may be a preseason favorite in the Big Ten if the right players from other programs leave early for the NBA.

Northern Iowa Ben Jacobson may get courted by Minnesota for its coaching vacancy. But with two starters back and a strong recruiting class headlined by a trio of Iowa standouts, the Panthers should be a favorite in the Missouri Valley Conference next year.

Drake's new head coach is Ray Giacoletti, a Gonzaga assistant coach under Mark Few this past season.

I don't know how this plays out in the end, but I have to reserve judgement of almost all hires until the program hits three years under that coach. Giacoletti has positive feedback and negative feedback from fans, media and anyone who thinks they know.

I honestly don't know at this point. So, right now, it's a great hire.


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