Do not dismiss the Stony Brook Seawolves.
Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery won’t. He’s rooted in coaching at the mid-major level, at Lafayette, UNC-Greensboro and Siena. He knows what kind of desire Stony Brook will bring to Carver-Hawkeye Arena Friday night.
Iowa’s second-round NIT opponent earned its NCAA-leading 13th road win of the season Wednesday night with its 71-59 first-round win over Massachusetts according to this Associated Press story.
Now, the nation’s leader in road wins will generally be a team from a small conference like the America East, because those teams play more road games than schools from the premier leagues. But still, 13 road wins is sturdy stuff.
And, the 25-7 Seawolves didn’t embarrass themselves in road losses, falling by 11 points at Connecticut, by 7 at Maryland, and by 2 at Seton Hall. Those games were before January, before this team took off.
Though Stony Brook was the No. 1 seed in the America East tournament, it had to play Albany at Albany in the semifinals because that’s where the league tournament was held. The Great Danes held off the Seawolves, 61-59, then beat Vermont for the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
As the America East’s regular-season champ, Stony Brook gained automatic entrance in the NIT. It made the most of it Wednesday at UMass. That was Stony Brook’s first national postseason tournament victory.
Through Tuesday, Stony Brook ranked third nationally in field goal percentage defense at .375. That went down slightly Wednesday, because UMass was 22-of-60 for 36.7 percent. Stony Brook, meanwhile, made 51.8 percent of its shots.
Hey, the little guys are doing just fine in the NIT so far. Robert Morris dumped Kentucky, Mercer won at Tennessee, and seventh-seed Stony Brook eliminated No.2-seed (and 2012 NIT Final Four team) UMass.
It isn’t as if Stony Brook hasn’t made a name for itself in athletics. Its baseball team blew many minds by reaching last year’s College World Series. Here’s an Associated Press photo from when the Seawolves were between clinching their CWS spot and heading to Omaha for that event: