Iowa loses

Tonight, the University of Maryland defeated Iowa’s third ranked men’s college basketball team 74-68. Maryland forwards Jake Layman and Robert Carter held Iowa all-American Jarrod Uthoff to 9 points on 2-13 shooting. Carter had 17 points on 7-11 shooting.

In other Iowa news, there was a Republican presidential debate. As expected, Donald Trump boycotted it.

I still don’t know whether this was a good decision, but it’s not looking too bad after his major rivals — Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — took hits from Fox News in the form of video clips that catch them contradicting the positions on immigration they’re taking in this campaign.

Rubio was hit with clips of him pledging, during his run for the Senate, never to support amnesty or a path to citizenship. Rubio could not talk his way around these statements or satisfactorily explain the obvious flip-flop. Jeb Bush piled on effectively.

This segment of the debate spoiled what otherwise was another sterling performance by the Florida Senator. I think it also demonstrated why Rubio faces a rather steep uphill climb for the nomination.

Cruz was hit with clips showing him insisting that his proposed amendment to Rubio’s Gang of Eight immigration legislation, under which illegal immigrants could obtain amnesty, was not designed to kill the bill, as he now claims it was. In multiple clips, Cruz said he wanted the bill to pass.

Cruz had no answer for this, other to wrap himself around Jeff Sessions and some conservative talk radio hosts. This shouldn’t be good enough, but it leaves him better positioned than Rubio because at least Cruz never supported a path to citizenship.

It doesn’t leave him better positioned than Trump, however.

I don’t know which film clips Fox News was prepared to show Trump, but I do know that by skipping the debate Trump avoided the kind of embarrassment Cruz and Rubio experienced. Sometimes the simplest explanations are the best: Maybe Trump skipped the debate because he sensed the danger.

Putting the immigration flip-flops to one side, Rubio was otherwise outstanding. Cruz was good, but struck me as whiny when he went after Chris Wallace for the questions he was asking other candidates and then demanded the floor.

Experience shows that attacking the media is a good strategy at Republican debates. It certainly has worked for Trump, and maybe Cruz was trying to be the Trump of this debate. But I suspect that Trump would have played the part better and very likely succeeded in getting the floor, where Cruz failed.

Chris Christie had another good night. His best moment came when, following the unsuccessful attempts of Rubio and Cruz to explain away the incriminating video clips, Christie called on the two to stop the Washington bull.

John Kasich did a good job of promoting his New Hampshire-centric persona. Apparently, they like his “let’s all get along” act in the Granite State. In his 30 second closing statement, Kasich used all of his favorite buzz words — optimism, problem solver, work together, etc. Some he used more than once.

Jeb Bush had a pretty good night, with his best moments coming at Rubio’s expense. But Bush needs to beat Kasich in New Hampshire, and Kasich’s lines may go over better with the portion of the electorate the two are pursuing. Kasich also had the advantage, once again, of not taking any fire from the other candidates.

Ben Carson was lackluster and, at times rambling, it seemed to me. For his closing statement he recited the Preamble to the Constitution and added “enough said.”

Rand Paul continues to grow on me even though I disagree with him on many issues. The fact that he’s not making me angry, as his father did, probably means the Kentucky Senator isn’t even going to win much of the hard core libertarian vote.

Go Terps.