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After celebration, Hawkeyes must regroup for Richmond in NCAA tourney
Big Ten tourney-champion Hawkeyes draw Atlantic 10 tourney-champion Spiders in Thursday first-round matchup in Buffalo, N.Y.
INDIANAPOLIS — College basketball history has seen many major-conference basketball teams that won their league tournaments only to crash and burn in a first-round NCAA tourney game.
In fact, the last Iowa men’s team to win the Big Ten tourney was the 2006 Hawkeyes, who went from the high of cutting the nets in Indianapolis to a crushing 64-63 first-round NCAA loss to No. 14-seed Northwestern State five days later.
Iowa’s 2022 team must quickly get out of the clouds after mowing down four foes at the Big Ten tourney and claiming the league’s championship. The Hawkeyes have a relatively short turnaround. They’ll play a first-round NCAA contest against 12th-seed Richmond at 2:10 p.m. (CT) Thursday in Buffalo, N.Y. (truTV).
The Spiders (23-12) will have no advantage in rest, however. The Atlantic 10 Conference’s sixth-place team edged A-10 regular-season champion Davidson 64-62 Sunday in that league’s tournament final.
Should Iowa (26-9) win Thursday, it would face either Big East regular-season champion Providence (25-5) or Summit League-titlist South Dakota State (30-4) Saturday. The winner of that Midwest Region pod would advance to the Sweet 16 in Chicago next week.
That could all wait just a bit Sunday, because the Hawkeyes had a title to celebrate, their first in Fran McCaffery’s 12-year tenure at Iowa.
If winning four games in four days against Big Ten teams — three of which are also headed to the NCAA tourney — wasn’t overly daunting, getting back on the horse quickly for Richmond shouldn’t be, either.
Iowa played one more game here than Purdue, but appeared to be fresher late in the game in its 75-66 win over the Boilermakers.
“I feel like we’re just in better shape than a lot of teams,” said Iowa forward Keegan Murray, who had 19 points and played all 40 minutes Sunday, and was named the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player after scoring 103 points in the event.
“For me, I’m not going to get tired. It’s a championship game. I’m not tired at all. I can go home and rest tomorrow. I feel like all our guys had the championship mindset tonight that soreness was out the window for us. Anything that was bugging us was thrown out the window.
“We wanted to get the championship and all our guys bought into that.”
It started with Murray, of course, but it was 12 players on Sunday. Ten played at least 10 minutes, including reserve sophomore center Josh Ogundele.
Ogundele had played sparingly this season, but answered the call in both halves when he was needed to spell Filip Rebraca or Kris Murray, who dealt with foul trouble. Ogundele scored 4 points, and had a steal in a first-half stretch when Iowa swiped the ball on three straight possessions in turning a 15-14 lead into a 21-14 edge.
Ogundele had to battle stellar Purdue big men Zach Edey and Trevion Williams, yet the Hawkeyes scored five more points than the Boilermakers when Ogundele was in the game.
“I thought Josh Ogundele was spectacular,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “So proud of him.”
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