Luka Garza Named Wooden Finalist, Front-Runner for National POY Awards


The Iowa Hawkeyes and Luka Garza were supposed to be here this weekend. Not only that, the Hawkeyes were supposed to advance past this round and many believed they were destined to go all the way through to the NCAA Tournament’s final weekend.

Garza, who eclipsed Roy Marble as Iowa’s all-time leading scorer, deserved a whole lot better this March. He did his part, scoring 36 and grabbing nine rebounds, but it wasn’t enough as the Hawkeyes were basically going with optional defending in a high-scoring blowout loss to Oregon in the round of 32.

Like Illinois, Iowa continues to be massively perplexed by the second round of March Madness, and the long sweet sixteen drought for both continues for at least another season. Iowa hasn’t been there since 1999, Illinois 2005. As for Garza, there is still more for him this season, even beyond his emotional goodbye, which absolutely made you feel for the guy.

You felt his pain, but when you consider that he’s the front-runner to win all the major national player of the awards, well, you can’t cry for him too much. Today saw Garza named a Wooden award finalist. Here is a list of the remaining contenders.

Jared Butler, Baylor
Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois
Luka Garza, Iowa
Corey Kispert, Gonzaga

According to the University of Iowa Sports Information Department: “The 36 points are the most points scored by any Division I player in the 2021 NCAA Tournament and ties Bill Logan’s school record set against Temple 65 years ago on March 22, 1956.”

Truly everybody’s All-American, to quote the title of that movie, he’s been named to several All-America lists. He’s also a finalist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, Senior CLASS Award, and Lute Olson Award.

March Madness rolls on without the Iowa Hawkeyes and Luka Garza, as the second weekend will crank up again here in a matter of minutes.

Be sure to click on BetQL for the odds, moneylines, point spreads, over/unders and more for every sweet sixteen game and the rest of the tournament.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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