March 15, 2015
- NCAA Men’s Basketball Central
- Read the March issue of Hawk Talk Monthly
- Download your Hawk Talk Monthly iOS app
- Download your Hawk Talk Monthly android app
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye Android app!
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team will be dancing in Seattle.
The Hawkeyes — the 27th overall seed — earned a No. 7 seed into its second-straight NCAA Tournament berth. Iowa will face 10th-seeded Davidson on Friday at 6:20 p.m. (CT) at KeyArena in Seattle.
“(This year) was a little more relaxing because we felt we were comfortably in,” said senior Mike Gesell. “It was exciting. This whole process is fun and is such a great tradition. Selection Sunday is a special moment.”
The Wildcats, the Atlantic 10 regular season champions, earned their first at-large berth in program history and bring a 24-7 record into March Madness. Davidson fell in the A-10 Tournament semifinals to VCU, 93-73, on March 14.
UI head coach Fran McCaffery has first-hand knowledge (and respect) for the Wildcats.
“This is where memories are made. You can put your name in the history books. It’s something I have my hopes and sights on. There has to be focus this week, get out there and be focused for the game.”
UI senior Aaron White
“Coach McCaffery told us he has coached against (Bob McKillop) and has known him for a long time,” said junior Adam Woodbury. “I am sure (McCaffery) knows the ins-and-outs of his system, and (McKillop) knows the ins-and-outs of McCaffery’s system. They’ll be ready for us, and we’ll be ready for them.”
McCaffery is 6-7 all-time against Davidson and McKillop. The two teams battled in the Southern Conference from 1999-2005 when McCaffery was head coach at UNC Greensboro.
“For a stretch, they had to go through us to go to the (NCAA) Tournament, and we had to go through them,” said McCaffery. “That’s where the respect comes from.”
The Wildcats like to get out and run, averaging nearly 80 points per game. They are led by Tyler Kalinoski, the A-10 Player of the Year, who averages 17 points per game.
“They’re going to shoot the 3 and shoot it well (39.7 percent),” said McCaffery. “They don’t turn the ball over (9.6 turnovers per game), they compete and play hard defensively and on the glass. They typically play fast, score the ball, and move it down the floor.”
The Hawkeyes believe the experience they gained from competing in the NCAA Tournament last season — a 78-65 overtime loss to Tennessee — makes them more prepared for what’s in store.
“We learned a lot from last year,” said Gesell. “It’s postseason time, every possession matters. You can’t rest for even half a possession. It’s win or go home now, everything matters just a little bit more.”
Iowa is searching for its first NCAA Tournament victory since 2001 — a 69-56 win over Creighton as a No. 7 seed — a drought the players looking to end.
“This year is different, each year is different,” said junior Jarrod Uthoff. “It doesn’t matter what happened before, we’re going to go out and make something special happen.”
“This is where memories are made,” said senior Aaron White. “You can put your name in the history books. It’s something I have my hopes and sights on. There has to be focus this week, get out there and be focused for the game.
“Now that we have somebody in front of us and a destination, we’re ready to go.”
The winner of the Iowa-Davidson game will advance to face the victor of the game between No. 2 seed Gonzaga and 15th-seeded North Dakota State. The Hawkeyes defeated the Bison, 87-56, on Nov. 17 in Iowa City.