|OPPONENT||Iowa (19-13) vs. Auburn (20-12)|
|LOCATION||Birmingham, Alabama (Legacy Arena)|
|DATE||Thursday, March 16|
|TIP-OFF||5:50 p.m. (CT)|
|RADIO||Hawkeye Sports Network|
Iowa (19-13) earned the No. 8 seed in the Midwest Region in the 2023 NCAA Tournament and will square-off against ninth-seeded Auburn (20-12) on Thursday at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama (5:50 p.m. CT).
ON THE AIR
Radio: Iowa games in the NCAA Tournament are broadcast on the Hawkeye Radio Network, Sirius/XM, and Westwood One Sports. Gary Dolphin will handle the play-by-play, along with color commentator Bob Hansen. The network includes more than 40 stations that blanket the state of Iowa and include portions of Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. The Hawkeye Radio Network coverage includes a 60-minute pregame show.
TV: Thursday’s NCAA First Round contest will be televised nationally on TNT. Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, and Tracy Wolfson will call the action.
NCAA TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND STORYLINES
- Iowa is one of 10 teams in the country to make the last four NCAA Tournaments, and one of only three Big Ten teams to accomplish the feat (Purdue, Michigan State).
- Iowa and Auburn will meet for the first time on Thursday.
- Iowa won 10 games over NCAA Tournament teams this season: Iowa State, SE Missouri State, Indiana (twice), Rutgers (twice), Maryland, Northwestern, Illinois and Michigan State.
- Iowa has placed fifth place or better in the Big Ten standings seven of the last nine years.
- Iowa and Michigan State had 13 wins over teams in the top two quadrants, second most in the Big Ten (Purdue, 19).
- Fran McCaffery has guided seven players to first team All-Big Ten status eight of the last 10 seasons, including Kris Murray (unanimous by the media) this year.
- Iowa had six players recognized with postseason Big Ten honors: Kris Murray (first team), Filip Rebraca (third team), Tony Perkins (honorable mention), Connor McCaffery (honorable mention), Payton Sandfort (Sixth Man of the Year), and Patrick McCaffery (sportsmanship).
- Iowa finished the regular season tied for fifth place in the Big Ten standings, its fifth consecutive upper division Big Ten finish and 10th over the last 11 seasons. Iowa is the only Big Ten team to have first-division finishes each of the past five seasons.
- The Hawkeyes boasted a Big Ten-best 7-3 record and percentage (.700) against the top half of the conference standings during the regular season. Furthermore, Iowa went 9-4 (.692) against teams starting Big Ten Tournament play Thursday or Friday.
- Iowa has won 10 or more Big Ten games eight of the last nine seasons.
- Iowa is one win from its fifth consecutive 20-win season and ninth overall under head coach Fran McCaffery. The last time the Hawkeyes posted five straight 20-win seasons was 1995-99 under head coach Tom Davis.
- Connor McCaffery ranks first in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.93) this year. He also led the nation in 2020 (4.6). He has amassed 524 career assists, sixth most in program history. McCaffery has played in 111 wins, tying Jordan Bohannon for most in program history.
- Kris Murray, who is an Oscar Robertson and Wooden Award semifinalist and Sporting News Third Team All-American, is one of only two Division I players to average 20+ points, 7.5+ rebounds, and have made 60+ 3-pointers this season (Jalen Wilson, Kansas). Murray surpassed 900 points career points on March 5, 2023.
- Filip Rebraca has reached double digits in scoring a team-best 27 times. He is one of nine players nationally to average 14+ points, 7.5+ rebounds, 1+ blocks, while shooting 57 percent or better from the field.
- Iowa leads the Big Ten and is 18th nationally in scoring offense (80.2). The Hawkeyes have led the league in scoring seven of the last 11 seasons, including the last six.
- Iowa is third in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.67), 12th in fewest turnovers per game (9.9), 13th in assists per game (16.6), and 31st in fewest fouls per game (14.7).
- The Hawkeyes are 12-2 this season when making nine or more 3-pointers in a game.
6 HAWKEYES EARN POSTSEASON BIG TEN RECOGNITION
Kris Murray was selected as a first-team All-Big Ten honoree by both the media and coaches. Filip Rebraca was a third team pick by the media and honorable mention by the coaches. Connor McCaffery and Tony Perkins were honorable mention selections by both the media and coaches. Payton Sandfort was chosen as the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year by the Big Ten by the coaches. Patrick McCaffery earned the team’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award for the second straight season.
Murray was a unanimous selection by the media, marking the fourth straight year a Hawkeye has been a unanimous first team selection (Keegan Murray in ’22; Luka Garza in ’20 and ’21).
Head coach Fran McCaffery has coached a first-team All-Big Ten honoree in eight of the last 10 seasons, matching the most over a 10-year span in program history (1939-48). The eight honorees under Coach McCaffery equal the total combined first-team all-conference selections under head coaches Todd Lickliter, Steve Alford, Tom Davis and George Raveling.
Murray averages a team-best 20.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.18 block per game. He has scored 30+ points four times this season, 25+ points nine times, and 20+ points 15 times.
Rebraca ranks second on the squad in points (14.1) and rebounds (7.6) per game, first in field goal accuracy (.571), blocks per contest (0.96) and free throws made (104) and attempted (155).
Connor McCaffery leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.93). He has played in 111 wins, tying former teammate Jordan Bohannon for most in program history. McCaffery is averaging 6.5 points, four rebounds and a team-best 3.7 assists per game this year.
Perkins ranks third on the team in points (12.5) and rebounds (4.1) per game (12.5), first in steals (45) and second in assists per game (2.8). His 87 free throws made are second most on the team. He has reached double figures in scoring 20 times this season, including six of the last seven games.
Sandfort becomes the fourth Hawkeye to earn Sixth Man of the Year accolades, joining Doug Thomas (2006), Gabriel Olaseni (2015) and Nicholas Baer (2017). Sandfort averages 10 points, 1.75 3-pointers, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.4 assists.
Patrick McCaffery averages 10 points and 3.5 rebounds in 26 games.
IOWA IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Iowa is participating in the NCAA Tournament for the 29th time, including qualifying for the last four.
Iowa will be traveling to the state of Alabama for the first time in program history.
The Hawkeyes hold an overall record of 31-30 in the tournament, advancing to the Final Four in 1955, 1956, and 1980. The Hawkeyes reached the regional championship in 1987 and lost in the regional semifinal in 1983, 1988, and 1999. Below is a listing of Iowa’s seeding in the tournament and the results. Iowa was 6-4 in the tournament before seeding began with Iowa’s 1979 appearance:
IOWA BY SEEDING
This year marks the third time in program history, and first time since 1997, that the Hawkeyes have earned a No. 8 seed.
In the 1997 NCAA Tournament as a No. 8 seed, Iowa beat Virginia in the first round, but fell to Kentucky in the second round in games played at Salt Lake City, Utah. In the 1985 NCAA Tournament as a No. 8 seed, Iowa lost to Arkansas in the first round contested in Salt Lake City.
IOWA FALLS TO OHIO STATE AT BIG TEN TOURNAMENT
Ohio State posted a narrow 73-69 victory over Iowa in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament last week at the United Center in Chicago.
- The game featured 18 lead changes, the most in an Iowa game this season. There were also eight ties.
- Filip Rebraca tallied 20 points and a game-best seven rebounds; he reached 20+ points for the fifth time this year.
- All-American Kris Murray registered 17 points, six rebounds and posted a career-high five assists. Junior Tony Perkins tallied 16 points and also snagged six rebounds and collected a team-best two steals.
- Ohio State forced 11 Hawkeye turnovers, the most by Iowa in a game since committing 15 turnovers on Feb. 19 at Northwestern.
- Iowa fell to 4-5 in two-possessions games this season.
- The Buckeyes led by one at halftime (29-28). After shooting 22 percent (2-of-9) from 3-point range in the first half, Ohio State made 56 percent (5-of-9) from long distance over the final 15 minutes.
- Iowa made 23.5 percent (4-of-17) of its 3-point attempts, including 2-of-7 (29 percent) in the second half.
LEADER OF THE PACK
Connor McCaffery is Iowa’s career leader in assist-to-turnover ratio, amassing a 3.59 ratio in 165 career games (524 assists; 146 turnovers), a full point above second-place Andre Banks (2.53). His career ratio is second best in NCAA history behind Iowa State’s Monte Morris (4.65).
His 3.93 assist-to-turnover ratio this season is tops in the nation. Reece Beekman of Virginia ranks second (3.47).
McCaffery’s assist-to-turnover ratio last year was 5.0 (did not qualify for national rankings due to not meeting assists per game minimum), while he ranked fourth nationally in 2021 with a 3.73 ratio. In 2020, he led the country with a 4.6 ratio.
Fifth-year senior Filip Rebraca has taken his game to another level this season. Rebraca, who was tabbed third-team all-league by the media, is one of nine players nationally on a college men’s basketball roster over the age of 25. He ranks first on the squad in field goal percentage (.571), and second in blocks (310 and rebounds (7.6) and points per game (14.1). He is pulling down 2.9 offensive boards per outing, fourth best in the Big Ten and 54th nationally. His field goal percentage (.571) ranks 35th in the country. He is one of two players (Payton Sandfort) to see action in all 32 Iowa games this season.
Rebraca netted career point No. 1,500 against Eastern Illinois (Dec. 21). He has scored 658 points the last two seasons as a Hawkeye (68 games) and 1,129 points in three seasons at North Dakota. He grabbed career rebound No. 1,000 in Iowa’s win over Michigan.
The 6-foot-9 center has netted double figures a team-best 27 times this year and posted a team-best nine double-doubles, fifth most in the league. Rebraca has scored in double figures 24 of the last 26 games. His 0.96 blocks per game rates 13th in the conference.
Rebraca had another stellar outing versus Eastern Illinois. He tallied a game-best 24 points, collected a career-high five steals, and snagged eight rebounds. He totaled 16 points and grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds at Nebraska, and amassed 19 points and 10 rebounds in Iowa’s triumph over then-No. 15 Indiana. Rebraca posted double-double No. 7 in the overtime win over Michigan (13 points, 12 rebounds).
SANDFORT TABBED BIG TEN SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR
Payton Sandfort has been named the 2023 Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year. He averages 10 points, 1.75 3-pointers, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. He drained four or more triples in five games, including two of the last four contests. The native of Waukee, Iowa, has scored in double figures 13 times this year.
Sandfort was instrumental in a pair of overtime victories over the state of Michigan. He scored Iowa’s final seven points of regulation (63 seconds), including a four-point play with 20 seconds remaining to force overtime versus Michigan. Sandfort tallied 24 of his career-high 26 points in the second half and overtime against the Wolverines. Sandfort posted 22 points, including sinking a game-tying triple with three seconds left to send Iowa’s home game versus MSU to overtime. He was a team-best +18 in Iowa’s victory over the Wildcats, scoring 20 points, bolstered by making 5-of-7 from long distance. He led all players with a +21, scoring nine points and grabbing six rebounds, in Iowa’s home triumph over Illinois.
Sandfort has netted double figures in nine of the last 18 games. Iowa is 11-4 when Sandfort makes multiple triples in a game.
Off the court, Sandfort excels in the classroom earning 2023 Academic All-District honors and Fall Semester Dean’s List distinction in 2022.
MURRAY EARNS POSTSEASON NATIONAL RECOGNITION
Junior Kris Murray was named Wooden and Oscar Robertson semifinalists, first-team Big Ten (unanimous by the media), third-team All-America by Sporting News, Naismith Midseason Team, a Karl Malone and Lute Olson finalist, and recognized on the Big Ten Preseason All-Big Ten Team.
Kris Murray is one of only two Division I players to average 20+ points, 7.5+ rebounds, and have made 60+ 3-pointers this season (Jalen Wilson, Kansas).
Murray is averaging a team-best 20.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per outing, including 21 points per conference game. Murray has increased his scoring average by 11.7 points per game this season compared to last year. His 20.4 points per contest ranks 20th nationally. Murray did not play in four contests in December (Iowa State; Wisconsin; Southeast Missouri State; Eastern Illinois) due to a lower body injury.
Murray has scored 30+ points four times this season. He is one of 30 players nationally with four or more 30-point performances. Murray is one of four Hawkeyes to score 30+ at least four times in the Fran McCaffery era joining Luka Garza (13), Keegan Murray (5), and Peter Jok (5).
Murray was named the ESPN Men’s Basketball National Player of the Week and Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on Dec. 5. He amassed 31 points, 20 rebounds, four assists, four 3-pointers, and two blocks in Iowa’s win over Georgia Tech. He is the first Hawkeye to amass 30 points and 20 rebounds in the same game since Bruce King in 1977. Murray is also the only NBA, WNBA, or Division I men’s or women’s player in the last 20 years to total 30+ points, 20+ rebounds, 4+ assists, 4+ 3-pointers, and 2+ blocks in the same game.
Murray returned to the lineup on Dec. 29 at Nebraska, registering game bests in points (17) and blocks (3), while also clearing eight rebounds. He scored a career-best 32 points at Penn State on Jan. 1. Murray totaled 30 points and 10 rebounds in Iowa’s victory over No. 15 Indiana on Jan. 5. He amassed 17 points and seven rebounds in Iowa’s road triumph at Rutgers. Murray played all 45 minutes in Iowa’s triumph over Michigan, amassing 27 points, eight rebounds, three blocks, three assists, and a steal. He netted 17 of his 19 points in the second half in the win over Maryland. Murray netted a game-best 24 points in the home win over Rutgers and game bests in points (28) and rebounds (14) at Minnesota. He totaled 26 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two blocks in Iowa’s road triumph at No. 15 Indiana last week.
He was Iowa’s leading scorer (9.7) and rebounder (4.3) off the bench last season. The native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was second on the team in 3-point percentage (.397), blocks per game (0.9) and field goals made (124), third in offensive (1.6) and defensive (2.7) rebounds per contest, and fourth in steals (0.8) per game. Murray made at least one 3-pointer in a team-best 17 consecutive games (Jan. 22-March 13). His 31 blocks and 43 triples rank seventh and eighth, respectively, by a Hawkeye sophomore.
Iowa has had a number of players miss games this season due health reasons. Below is the list of players and games missed.
Tony Perkins: Omaha (thigh)
Riley Mulvey: Georgia Tech, Duke (illness)
Kris Murray: Iowa State, Wisconsin, SEMO, Eastern Illinois (lower body)
Ahron Ulis: Wisconsin (hip contusion)
Connor McCaffery: Eastern Illinois (wrist)
Josh Ogundele: PSU, IND, RUT, MICH, UMD, OSU, MSU, RUT, NW, ILL (knee)
Patrick McCaffery: Indiana, Rutgers, Michigan, Maryland, Ohio State, Michigan State (anxiety)
Iowa became just the fourth team in Division I history to trail by 11+ points and win with under one minute remaining in the game when it rallied from 11 points with 55 seconds left to upend Michigan State in overtime (112-106) on Feb. 25 in Iowa City. Texas A&M (down 12 with 33 seconds left vs. UNI in 2016), UNLV (down 11 with 59 seconds left vs. SDSU in 2005), Nevada (down 11 with 59 seconds left vs. New Mexico in 2017).
Iowa posted its third-largest comeback in school history when it rallied to beat No. 15 Indiana (91-89) on Jan. 5, in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes trailed by 21 points (28-7) early in the first half. Iowa took its first lead with 11:35 remaining in the second half.
Iowa’s two largest comebacks were 23 points against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 17, 2022, and 22 points at Illinois on Jan. 14, 1987.
The Hawkeyes rallied from a 10-point second half deficit, including trailing by seven with under two minutes left in regulation, to upend Michigan in overtime on Jan. 12 in Iowa City.
Iowa has had a player average 20+ points per game each of the last three seasons, which is a program best. Luka Garza averaged 23.9 in 2020 and 24.1 in 2021, while Keegan Murray averaged 23.5 in 2022.
Kris Murray, twin brother of Keegan, is currently averaging 20.4 points per game. If he continues his scoring pace, the Hawkeyes will have a player average 20+ four consecutive years.
ANOTHER SIXTH-YEAR PLAYER
Connor McCaffery returned for his COVID bonus year and sixth season. He has played in 165 career games, second to only Jordan Bohannon (179) in program history. McCaffery has played in 111 games in which Iowa has won, tying Jordan Bohannon for most in school history.
McCaffery, who was named an honorable mention all-conference selection, is averaging 6.5 points, four rebounds, and a team-best 3.7 assists per game this year. He has made a single-season best 37 triples, third most on the team. McCaffery posted 14 points, bolstered by shooting a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line, in his first start of the season against the Cyclones. He registered his first career double-double versus Georgia Tech (10 points; 10 rebounds) and notched his second double-double versus Wisconsin (17 points, 10 rebounds). McCaffery dished out eight assists (only one turnover) in Iowa’s win at Rutgers. He tied a season high with 10 rebounds in the win at Minnesota, and followed up that performance with seven points, six rebounds, and a career-high 13 assists (zero turnovers) in Iowa’s double-digit win over Ohio State. McCaffery had a game-high nine assists, to go along with eight rebounds, and eight points in Iowa’s regular season finale against Nebraska.
He is tops in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.93). McCaffery has had zero turnovers 13 times this season.
McCaffery has only missed seven free throws this season (45-of-52). He made 19 consecutive free throws from Nov. 29 to Dec. 29, before missing his first and only attempt at Penn State on Jan. 1, 2023.
FRAN MCCAFFERY CONTINUES TO WIN
- With Iowa’s Big Ten Tournament win last March, McCaffery joined Hall of Fame coaches Rick Pitino, Bob Huggins, Eddie Sutton and Lefty Driesell as the only Division I coaches to lead teams to conference tournament titles in four or more different leagues.
- Fran McCaffery has led Iowa to Big Ten upper division finishes 10 of the last 11 years, including this season. Iowa and Michigan State have each recorded a Big Ten-best 10 first division finishes since 2013.
• Fran McCaffery has coached a first-team All-Big Ten honoree seven of the last nine seasons. He has guided Iowa to a fifth place or better finish in the Big Ten seven of the last nine years.
A number of recent Iowa basketball graduates are playing professionally: Keegan Murray (NBA Sacramento Kings), Luka Garza (G League Iowa Wolves), Jordan Bohannon (G League Iowa Wolves), Joe Wieskamp (NBA Toronto Raptors), Jarrod Uthoff (Japan), Devyn Marble (Poland), Tyler Cook (G League Salt Lake City Stars), Anthony Clemmons (Turkey), Gabriel Olaseni (Turkey), Ryan Kriener (Matsuyama), Melsahn Basabe (Nicaragua), and Aaron White (Serbia).