Five losses that kept Iowa out of the NCAA Tournament, Rick Heller’s 800th win 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 Iowa Breakfast Club here with you at 8:30 a.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.
So let’s get to it. Here is the Iowa Breakfast Club for Monday, March 13.
One win shy of the dance
Iowa was No. 69. Maybe it was No. 72. Either way, the Hawkeyes weren’t one of the 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament when the field was announced Sunday. They earned the dreaded First Four Out label, as officially handed out by the selection committee.
The first four out are the top seeds in the NIT. Discover the rest of the field on the Selection Show at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU. pic.twitter.com/gdJOYKtzHJ
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 12, 2017
So, yes, Iowa likely ended up a single win short of the NCAA Tournament. That’s not easy to swallow, especially with so many close losses — two of them in double overtime. Here are the five biggest losses Iowa fans are thinking back on, the ones that could have flipped the Hawkeyes from being a NIT team to an NCAA Tournament squad.
- 1. at Minnesota, 101-89 (2 OT), Feb. 8
Let’s throw the Brady Ellingson timeout that never was aside. The Hawkeyes overcame a 14-point road deficit and led the Golden Gophers late. All momentum was on their side. They were in position to win before falling in double overtime. A win against an eventual No. 5 seed might even be enough to lift Iowa out of the First Four games and into a true first-round NCAA Tournament contest.
- 2. vs. Seton Hall, 91-83, Nov. 17
Iowa was probably too young and inexperienced in November to win this game, but it was close and there for the taking. A win against another NCAA Tournament team would have looked really good on the résumé.
- 3. vs. Illinois, 70-66, Feb. 18
The Hawkeyes led most of the contest and let the Fighting Illini walk out with a win in the final minutes. A win here sends Iowa into the Big Ten Tournament on a five-game winning streak, ensures an 11-win Big Ten campaign and secures a top-5 finish in the conference. That likely turns Iowa into a tourney team.
- 4. at Nebraska, 93-90 (2 OT), Jan. 5
This was a lot like the Minnesota loss. The Hawkeyes were in position to win here. The only difference is Nebraska isn’t an NCAA Tournament team.
- 5. vs. Omaha, 98-89, Dec. 3
Yes, this may be the most obvious one to want back. This was supposed to be a guarantee game. Omaha, No. 175 in the KenPom rankings, was given a check to come to Carver-Hawkeye Arena and lose.
Yes, there is a reason this one is fifth on the list. Quality wins mean more than the bad losses. Erasing a loss the tourney committee will frown on is a positive, but picking up a good win, like the Minnesota one, is better.
The champ is tweeting
Iowa City West High School and future Iowa basketball player Connor McCaffery won a state championship last weekend. The Trojans beat West Des Moines Valley 64-50 on Saturday.
McCaffery scored 19 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, but his best move may have come after the victory when he gave the social media version of a championship acceptance speech.
Love this team man.. gonna miss it pic.twitter.com/XBuEAyzXDt
— Connor McCaffery (@connor_m30) March 12, 2017
It’s obvious the tweet came from McCaffery’s heart. His happiness and excitement come through.
Like an Oscar winner, he thanked nearly everyone who helped him get to this point. Unlike an Oscar winner, he doesn’t need to worry about someone taking this trophy away from him.
Heller hits milestone
Iowa baseball coach Rick Heller picked up his 800th career victory at the Snowbird Classic during the weekend.
The Hawkeyes (9-6) went 2-2 in Florida, opening play with a 10-1 loss to Villanova on Friday. Zach Fricke had the team’s only RBI.
Bucknell topped Iowa 7-1 on Saturday, with Jake Adams and Matt Hoeg each recording 2 hits in the loss.
But the Hawkeyes swept Lehigh on Sunday. They opened up the day with a 15-7 victory, Adams leading the way with 3 hits — including a home run — and 6 RBI. Mason McCoy added 2 hits, 3 runs and 2 RBI. Iowa won the second contest 8-1 behind Robert Neustrom’s 4 hits and 5 RBI.
— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) March 13, 2017
Weather issues pushed back the start of the Jayhawk Invitational in Lawrence, Kan., to Sunday. Iowa opened the day with an 11-1 loss to Drake. Allie Wood drove in the Hawkeyes’ lone run and Kaitlyn Mullarkey recorded 2 of Iowa’s 6 hits. In the second game Sunday, Iowa lost to host Kansas 6-2. Brooke Rozier homered, her first of the season.
The Hawkeyes (2-14) wrap up tournament play with a second game against Kansas at 4 p.m. CT / 5 p.m. ET on Monday.