Following an underwhelming finish to its season, the Iowa basketball team went through a relatively underwhelming Selection Sunday.
Once considered a good bet to garner anywhere from a three to a five seed, the Hawkeyes culminated their late season free fall by receiving an 11 seed in the Midwest Regional. On top of that, the selection committee thought little enough of the Iowa team to assign it to play in the “First Four”, essentially a group of play-in games for the four worst automatic qualifiers (16 seeds) and the last four teams to receive at-large bids.
The Hawkeyes are technically in the NCAA Tournament field, but just barely.
To any fans clamoring that this team was worthy of a higher seed and/or unjustly placed in the First Four, stop it. Iowa made its bed with porous play down the stretch, and now they’re going to have to sleep in it.
You cannot lose six of your last seven games to close out the year and expect to be looked upon favorably when the bracket is constructed. Because of that, Iowa now finds itself slated to take on Tennessee for the right to play the sixth seeded Massachusetts Minutemen in the round of 64.
If the Hawkeyes want to survive and advance, first against the Vols and then thereafter, they will have to finally get over whatever self inflicted ailment it is that has seemed to plague them for the past three weeks.
No one is really quite sure of the underlying rhyme or reason behind Iowa’s struggles. They just know that it has translated to a lot of losses on the court. As far as I can tell, all of the primary contributors have been relatively healthy throughout the team’s recent slide, which would suggest that the real problem lays between the ears of these Hawkeyes.
Unfortunately, there’s not going to be a whole lot of time to find and correct the mysterious issue before lose-and-go-home play ensues.
Instead of waiting until Thursday or Friday like the vast majority of participants in this year’s Big Dance, Iowa will get an early start on Wednesday night against the aforementioned Volunteers of Tennessee. Led by head coach Cuonzo Martin, the fourth place finisher in the Southeastern conference has in large part failed to live up to expectations much like the Hawkeyes.
Where the two teams differ however, is that Tennessee has been playing some of its best basketball at the end of the season, a stark contrast to Iowa.
Fan bases of both programs are probably less than pleased to see their teams headed to Dayton, Ohio for an extra game, but hey, it’s still better than being in the NIT or CBI (whatever the heck that is).
The bottom line is that neither group has a whole lot to gripe about, especially those backing the Hawkeyes. Your teams had 30-plus games to position themselves for a favorable tournament seed and didn’t take advantage of the numerous opportunities given.
Now both teams get another chance to prove they belong.
Look at the bright side Iowa, you could be the first team in tournament history to win seven games to secure a national title!