The Hawkeyes seem like an off-the-board pick for Carolina's ACC-Big Ten Challenge opponent, which has been Michigan State for the last 47 years of the event (not an actual figure, but it's close).
There are a few circumstances that went into the assignment of this year's foe. Carolina was due a home game, because Roy Williams volunteered to go on the road last year in the Challenge to balance a home-heavy schedule. That game, of course, turned into a signature win at--go figure--Michigan State, so it turned out to be a great move.
That means the Tar Heels needed a home game this year, which immediately zapped half the possible opponents. One of those was Wisconsin, because the Badgers traveled to Chapel Hill in 2011. But Wisconsin was scheduled for a home game this year, so that pairing was a bad fit. Plus, Wisconsin and Carolina are both in the Battle 4 Atlantis the week before the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and a rematch one week later--even between two solid clubs--might not be appealing television.
Indiana could have been another possible matchup, but the Hoosiers were also due a home game, and Carolina wasn't going to return to Bloomington for the second time in three years. Michigan, perhaps the most appealing Big Ten team that the Tar Heels haven't faced yet in this event (amazingly, Carolina and Michigan haven't played since the 1993 title game), also landed a home game.
The two marquee Big Ten teams going on the road in the event are Michigan State and Ohio State. The Spartans were probably out because if they play one more game in the Smith Center, they're going to qualify for the ACC Tournament. Carolina and Ohio State, meanwhile, already have a neutral site game scheduled in Chicago.
So Iowa, in many ways, makes sense. Who knows: it might even set up a return game for next year, when the Tar Heels could potentially have senior Marcus Paige on the roster. Paige, as you might possibly have heard ad nauseum during the NCAA Tournament game against Iowa State, is from Iowa.
In addition to the Paige connection, here are three more reasons why Iowa is a decent pairing for Carolina:
1. The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series with Carolina, 2-1. Any time the Tar Heels get a chance to eliminate one of the very few series in which they trail, it's a good thing. For your Tar Heel trivia knowledge, there are 12 current Division I programs with a winning record all-time against UNC: Army, Drake, Georgetown, George Washington, Indiana, Iowa, Navy, Oklahoma State, San Francisco, Texas, West Virginia and Xavier.
2. Iowa should be good. They advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season and check in at number-25 in this ESPN very early pre-season poll for 2015. Carolina's nonconference schedule is already loaded for next year.
3. The Tar Heels need redemption for 1989. What happened then? Officials sent the wrong player to the free throw line to shoot the eventual winning free throws in an Iowa win at the Smith Center. Ironically, that player was Roy Marble. His son, Roy Devyn Marble, was an All-Big Ten pick as a senior for Iowa last year, which means someone--probably Roy Marble, and definitely not us--is very old.