Iowa’s non-conference RPI has a chance to make a real bump this year, all from changing tournaments.
The Hawkeyes will join the Battle 4 Atlantis from Nov. 28-30 in the Bahamas, dropping the Great Alaska Shootout. The difference in tournaments is stark, from its competition to its high-profile opponents.
Kansas headlines the Battle 4 Atlantis field this year, and is joined by NCAA tournament qualifier Villanova. Other Atlantis teams include Xavier, UTEP, Tennessee, Wake Forest and USC. The only team in the tournament with an RPI below 109 was Wake Forest (13-18). The average RPI for the tournament is 79.
The Great Alaska Shootout field boasts one NCAA tournament team (Harvard). Denver and Indiana State competed in the NIT last year. Tulsa and Green Bay — which replaced Iowa — played in other postseason tournaments. The field’s average RPI is 135.
Iowa’s non-conference RPI was a primary reason why the Hawkeyes did not qualify for the NCAA tournament last year. The Hawkeyes finished 25-13 overall and second in the NIT, but Iowa was 21-12 after the season. NCAA tournament chairman Mike Bobinski said Iowa was one of the last six teams discussed for an NCAA tournament spot.
Last year’s Battle 4 Atlantis featured a bullish field. Eventual NCAA tournament champion Louisville, Duke, Minnesota, Memphis, Missouri and VCU all made the NCAA tournament. Stanford was an NIT qualifier and Northern Iowa won 20 games.
“Both the Great Alaska Shootout and Battle 4 Atlantis are phenomenal tournaments,” said head coach Fran McCaffery. “The Great Alaska Shootout is a tournament rich in tradition, while the Battle 4 Atlantis is an exciting new tournament that began two years ago. We are excited about this new opportunity for our program and fans.”