Bobby La Gesse/Land of 10
Iowa football signee Tristan Wirfs

Will Tristan Wirfs play two sports at Iowa? Hawkeyes basketball to match strengths vs. Minnesota and more

The best way to start your day is right here at Landof10.com as we prepare you for everything you need to know about Iowa sports. We’ll share our Hawkeyes Wake-Up Call here with you at 8:30 a.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.

So let’s get to it. Here is your Wake-Up Call for Wednesday, Feb. 8.


Will Wirfs be a multisport athlete at Iowa?

Tristan Wirfs isn’t just a football player and future Iowa offensive lineman. He’s a pretty good wrestler. He can also throw the discus and shot.

It’s the latter sport he could play at college if he wants to. Right now, Wirfs is undecided on whether he’ll throw for Iowa. It all depends on what he does this spring.

“I might,” Wirfs said. “I might not. For me, it’s how this year goes. If I hit the marks that I want to I’ll do it.”

The figure is 65 feet in the shot. He believes if he can throw it that far he could make it as a Big Ten thrower. His personal best is 61 feet.

“It can be doable,” Wirfs said, “but it will be really tough.”

To help, Wirfs plans to switch to the spinning technique. It’s essentially the same technique used when throwing the discus, just with a shot put.

“Spinning should help with distance,” Wirfs said.

It’s also the technique used with the shot put in college. Transitioning now would eliminate the adjustment period at the next level.

Wirfs may throw the shot. He may not. He’ll let his performance decide.

But what about the discus? His mind seems pretty made up there.

“I like the shot a lot more,” Wirfs said.

The fact that fellow signee A.J. Epenesa will be throwing the discus made the decision easier. Epenesa is kind of a natural.


Iowa-Minnesota breakdown

Yes, Minnesota is struggling. The Golden Gophers have lost five of their last six.

Yes, Minnesota is below .500 in league play. The 4-6 Big Ten mark doesn’t look great.

Yes, Minnesota still is an NCAA Tournament team. The 16-7 Golden Gophers were a No. 10 seed in the latest ESPN bracketology.

This is an improved team, one sitting in the top 40 in the KenPom ratings and one that should be a tough opponent for the Hawkeyes on Wednesday night, regardless of what their recent outcomes say.

Team KenPom Ranking Adjusted O Adjusted D
Iowa (14-10, 6-5 Big Ten) 68 113.1 (50th) 103.5 (136th)
Minnesota (16-7, 4-6) 36 108.7 (109th) 92.9 (10th)

This matchup will pit strength against strength. Minnesota is as good as anyone in the country on defense, according to KenPom. Iowa is best with the basketball.

Winning this matchup will mean more for the Hawkeyes than the Golden Gophers. At home, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Minnesota, which rates as an elite defense, can slow down Iowa.

But if the Hawkeyes can hold the upper hand it would give them an edge they likely weren’t expecting and put them in position to outscore the Golden Gophers.

Minnesota can put the ball in the hoop. Guards Nate Mason III and Amir Coffey can take over a game and perimeter defense isn’t Iowa’s biggest strength. A defensive effort along the lines of the second half against Nebraska on Sunday, when the Cornhuskers shot 31.6 percent, could go a long way.

But it’s the offense, and finding a way to negate Minnesota’s biggest strength, that could play a larger role in a potential Iowa victory.


What rivalry?

Iowa and Minnesota are Big Ten rivals. No one apparently told Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery, though.

He was asked if he viewed the Golden Gophers the way the football team does.

“I don’t look at any game in our league any differently than any other,” McCaffery said. “They are all difficult. They are all challenging. I respect the opponent and they have the same amount of impact for us to end up where we want to end up, regardless of where they are located.”

It’s easy to understand where McCaffery is coming from. A win over Minnesota counts just as much as one against any other Big Ten team in the league standings.

But sports are better with rivalries and rivalries need the key players on both sides to embrace it. Maybe if McCaffery could hoist the Floyd of Rosedale after defeating the Golden Gophers he would change his mind on the Minnesota rivalry.


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