The lack of a non-conference schedule and frequent road collapses caught up with the Iowa Hawkeyes. For the seventh straight season, Iowa will miss the NCAA tournament. But for the second straight season, Iowa will play in the NIT. I know it’s like going from a shot at the BCS to the Heart of Dallas Bowl. But it’s still the postseason, and like Kirk Ferentz has told us for year, there are no bad bowl games (or postseason tournaments).
While last year’s NIT bid felt like a gift for Iowa (21-12), this year’s NIT has its advantages. Iowa might have the best squad outside the NCAA tournament. The Hawkeyes have a shot at reaching the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City. ESPN and its family of networks air the NIT so you could get some exposure there.
Iowa posted the NIT’s best crowd a year ago in its home game against Dayton and likely will get home games as long as they keep winning. Nine different regular-season champions are automatic NIT qualifiers: Mercer, Charleston Southern, Northeastern, Niagara, Robert Morris, Stony Brook, Norfolk State, Long Beach State, Louisiana Tech. That means 23 qualifiers are at-large.
So here’s a glance of how the NIT field could appear when it’s announced at 8 p.m. (ESPNU). Remember higher seeds earn home games.
1. Kentucky vs. 8. Robert Morris
4. Xavier vs. 5. Eastern Kentucky
3. UMass vs. 6. Ohio
2. Providence vs. Northeastern
1. Iowa vs. 8. Niagara
4. Washington vs. 5. Air Force
3. Arkansas vs. 6. BYU
2. Arizona State vs. 7. Long Beach State
1. Tennessee vs. 8. Charleston Southern
4. Florida State vs. 5. Charlotte
3. Alabama vs. 6. Southern Miss
2. Maryland vs. 7. Stony Brook
1. Virginia vs. 8. Norfolk State
4. LSU vs. 5. Louisiana Tech
3. Stanford vs. 6. Texas A&M
2. Baylor vs. 7. Mercer