It's hard to believe that a team that is going to their first NCAA Tournament in eight years could be surrounded by as much pessimism as the Iowa Hawkeyes are right now, but that's what losing to Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament will do to a team.
Iowa enters the 2014 NCAA Tournament with a play-in-game matchup with Tennessee for the rights to the 11 seed in the midwest. If they're able to get by Tennessee, they will face U Mass in the "second" round.
Iowa's tournament berth is their 23rd all-time, but first since 2006, in which they earned a three seed. That year, they lost their opening-round game by one to 14 seed Northwestern State. Their 11 seed is tied for the highest seed they have ever received, as they were also given an 11 seed in 1986.
Iowa's tournament history is much more decorated a few decades ago than it is now. From 1979-1993, Iowa made the tournament in 15 of 17 seasons, and received a five seed or better in seven of those 15 appearances. In total, the Hawkeyes have made the Final Four three ties. In 1955 they lost to La Salle in the National Semifinal, 1956, they lost to San Francisco in the National Championship, and in 1980 they lost to Louisville in the National Semifinal.
Iowa has a 27-24 overall record in the NCAA Tournament, but hasn't won a tournament game since 2001. Overall, since 1985 when the tournament expanded to 64 teams, they have made the Sweet 16 three times. Since 1985 they have won at least one of their games in 10 of 14 appearances.
This is Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery's sixth NCAA Tournament appearance, with his 4th team (Lehigh, NC-Greensboro, Siena). He holds a 2-5 overall tournament record, with both of his wins coming in opening round games with Siena.
While this season certainly has not finished like Iowa fans once expected it to turn out, the Hawkeyes are on the right track to becoming a perennial tournament team. Even if this may not be their year for expected tournament success, Fran McCaffery has brought Iowa back to the big dance for the first time in nearly a decade, and the program is moving in the right direction towards continued success.