Iowa backs into a 10

Hawkeyes draw Cincinnati in South Region

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team received an at-large berth for the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, the 26th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the Hawkeyes and fourth under head coach Fran McCaffery.

“We are just really thrilled for our players and the hard work they’ve put in,” McCaffery said of the selection. “Tremendous body of work that was rewarded by the selection committee and we are anxious to play on Friday.”

Iowa (22-11) was selected as the No. 10 seed in the South Region, where it will face seventh-seeded Cincinnati (28-6) in the first round on Friday in Columbus at 11:15 a.m.

The Hawkeyes and Bearcats have met eight times previously, with Cincinnati holding a 6-2 series advantage.

“They are a tremendous defensive team that prides themselves on defensive effort and intensity,” McCaffery said. “They can score too, they’ve got good players, really one of the only programs that wins close to 30 every year and they’ve been doing that. It’s a credit to them and a challenge we look forward to.”

Iowa won four games against NCAA Tournament teams this season with victories over sixth-seeded Iowa State, second-seeded Michigan, 11th-seeded Ohio State and 12th-seeded Oregon. Nine of the Hawkeyes’ 11 losses came to teams who qualified for the tournament.

McCaffery has guided Iowa to 20 wins or more in five of the last seven seasons and finished in the top half of the Big Ten Conference in six of the last seven years. Only Michigan State has more upper division finishes than Iowa since 2013.

The Hawkeyes were undefeated in the regular season in non-conference games for the first time since 1986-87, winning all 11 games by an average margin of 16.9 points.

Iowa fell on harder times to close the Big Ten slate, losing five of its last six games before going 1-1 in the conference tournament.

Cincinnati enters its ninth-consecutive NCAA Tournament on the heels of back-to-back American Athletic Conference Tournament titles after defeating No. 11 Houston in the championship game. The Bearcats were second in the AAC with a 14-4 record, with three of those losses coming to fellow tournament teams.

SOUTH REGIONAL

First Round

Thursday, March 21

At Hartford, Conn.

Villanova (25-9) vs. Saint Mary’s (22-11), 6:20 p.m.

Purdue (23-9) vs. Old Dominion (26-8), 8:50 p.m.

Friday, March 22

At Columbia, S.C.

Mississippi (20-12) vs. Oklahoma (19-13), 11:40 a.m.

Virginia (29-3) vs. Gardner-Webb (23-11), 2:10 p.m.

At Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

Cincinnati (28-6) vs. Iowa (22-11), 11:15 a.m.

Tennessee (29-5) vs. Colgate (24-10), 1:45 p.m.

At San Jose, Calif.

Kansas State (25-8) vs. UC Irvine (30-5), 1 p.m.

Wisconsin (23-10) vs. Oregon (23-12), 3:30 p.m.