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Iowa Snags #1 Seed in NIT

By Jason Van Arkel, March 13, 2017

It’s a classic “is the glass half-empty or half-full” question. The Iowa men’s basketball team on Sunday earned a #1 seed in the NIT, and will play at least one and as many as three games at home in what is essentially college basketball’s consolation tournament. The top seed means the Hawkeyes were one of the first four teams left out of the NCAA Tournament.

For Iowa, it’s probably very frustrating to find out just how close they came to the Big Dance; in fact, had they beaten Indiana in the Big Ten tournament last week, instead of going one-and-done, the Hawkeyes might be getting ready for the NCAA First Four on Tuesday. Still, for a team that’s given so many minutes to five freshman and four sophomores this season, a top NIT seed is a fairly remarkable achievement.

More importantly, it’s a chance to play as many as five more games in a tournament environment. Iowa starts off Wednesday at 6:00 against South Dakota, the regular-season champion of the Summit League. The opener will be televised on ESPN2. If the Hawkeyes win, they’ll host either #4 seed TCU or #5 seed Fresno State in the 2nd round. Another win would give Iowa a third home game, and beyond that round are the semifinals and the final at Madison Square Garden in New York.

This will mark Iowa’s eighth appearance in the NIT. Their last trip was in 2013, when they made it all the way to the final before losing to Baylor. The Hawkeyes have played in the NCAA Tournament each of the past three seasons, and also played in the NIT in 2012, making this season the sixth in a row in which they’ve qualified for postseason play.