March 13, 2016
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Big Apple is the destination for the University of Iowa men’s basketball team for March Madness.
The Hawkeyes earned a No. 7 seed in the South Regional, where they will face 10th-seeded Temple on Friday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The time is to be determined.
With a win, Iowa would square off against second-seeded Villanova or No. 15 seed UNC-Asheville on Sunday.
“It’s always exciting to see your name called,” said senior Jarrod Uthoff. “(The NCAA Tournament) is the biggest stage; it’s what you play college basketball for.”
“We’ll be focused, but we’ll enjoy the experience. We’re looking to make some noise in this tournament.”
UI senior Mike Gesell
The Owls, a member of the American Athletic Conference, are 21-11 overall and won the AAC regular season title with a 14-4 league record. Temple advanced to the semifinals of the AAC Tournament before being bounced by eventual champion Connecticut.
“Temple is a terrific program,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “(Head coach) Fran Dunphy is a good friend and is one of the most successful college basketball coaches of our generation.
“They have talent, depth, and are well-coached. They’re used to playing in the postseason, so we have to be ready.”
The Hawkeyes are putting their late-season swoon — where they lost five of their last seven games — in the rearview mirror.
“It’s a new season, it’s tournament time,” said senior Mike Gesell. “We’re excited as a team, we get to go to Brooklyn. It’s going to be a great experience.”
“Everybody is 0-0 going into this,” said senior Adam Woodbury. “No matter what you did in the regular season, it doesn’t matter. There are upsets in every bracket. We’re looking to win some games.
“It’s going to take focus and poise, winning turnovers, trying to get good shots, and playing good defense. You also have to get lucky, but you have to go out and try and play your best basketball.”
The Hawkeyes are staying together. This is the same Iowa team that started Big Ten play with 10 wins in 11 games and the same team that climbed to as high as No. 3 in the national rankings.
“They’ve been together from the beginning,” said McCaffery. ” We’ve had winning streaks and losing streaks, but they’ve remained together. We’ve stuck with those guys because we know the character they have.
“We have to make sure, in this setting, we are taking care of rebounding, moving the basketball, taking care of the ball, and giving yourself every chance to win the game. I have total trust in my guys.”
Iowa is making its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time since 1990-92. The Hawkeyes are playing heading to NYC for the third time in four seasons.
“I think we should have gone my freshman year, too,” said Woodbury. “Being able to go four years would have been cool, but going three years, I’ll take it.”
“We’ll be focused, but we’ll enjoy the experience,” said Gesell. “We’re looking to make some noise in this tournament.”
Fans interested in buying tickets can do so beginning Monday from 9 am-3 pm CT by calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS. Requests will be accepted from season ticket holders, I-Club members, UI students and UI alumni. Those buying tickets (limit 2) for Friday’s game will be required to purchase tickets for the Sunday game, if Iowa wins on Friday.