Makin' Noise

March 12, 2005

In March – to break through all the college basketball Madness — it’s all about making a little noise. The Iowa Hawkeyes are doing just that.

Iowa has won five straight – including a thrilling 71-69 victory over No. 10 Michigan State last night in the United Center – and are now getting their Dancin’ shoes ready…after they take care of a little more business in the Windy City.

Steve Alford’s squad squares off against Wisconsin at 3 p.m. in the second semifinal game of the 2005 Big Ten Conference Tournament. It will be Iowa’s third game in three days…and they’re planning for a fourth.

“We want to win the Big Ten Tournament and that’s all we really care about right now,” said Jeff Horner, he of the three-point shot that is launched from somewhere south of Chicago’s Miracle Mile.

“Hopefully the selection committee looks at this. It’s kind of out of our hands, but if we get two more wins, then they can’t keep us out.”

Iowa has a legitimate shot at those wins, too. The Hawkeyes lost to Wisconsin by just three points – 72-69 – in a game that was played in Madison and in which Iowa had a second half lead.

And, until last Sunday’s loss to Ohio State, no one had played Illinois tougher than the Hawkeyes. That is, of course, if the Fighting Illini, who will be hurting for their coach after the sudden death of his mother late yesterday afternoon, can get past a hard-nosed Minnesota squad that has moved from being on the bubble to playing for a higher seed. A win over the Illini would accomplish just that.

Alford squared off against his good friend Dan Monson twice this season and both coaches were victorious on their home court. Both contests were dogfights not really decided until late in the second half.

The numbers appear to add up to “NCAA” for the Hawkeyes – 21 total wins, a 6-4 record in their last 10 games, a five-game winning streak capped by a hard-fought victory over a Top 10-ranked team that Alford believes has the talent, depth and experience to reach the Final Four.

If the Hawkeyes see their name on the big board late Sunday afternoon it will mean they have secured their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since the spring of 2001 when they won four games in the United Center to win the Big Ten Tournament and the league’s automatic invitation to participate in March Madness.

Again, Iowa’s run through Chicago restarts today at 3 p.m. against Wisconsin. The game will be televised live by CBS. Fans of the Hawkeyes can watch the post-game press conference live online by clicking HERE.