One of the best parts about NCAA basketball is that the month of March can bring out a completely different team than that had performed during the regular season. Upsets, underdogs and last second shots are what make up the madness that is March. Some teams consistently thrive on the big stage, while others tend to freeze up and for some reason cannot make it past the first few rounds.
As a seventh seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, the Iowa Hawkeyes (21-11) will face the tenth seeded Davidson Wildcats (24-7) in the second round. The Hawkeyes had a roller coaster of a conference season, including times when a Tournament berth was not likely. But lucky for them, the high points of their season showed at crucial moments, rewarding Fran McCaffery's team with its second straight tournament bid.
Unfortunately for Iowa, it has not built an impressive resume once it has made it to the tournament. A consistent issue for the Hawkeyes has been its defensive second-half struggles.
This will be Iowa's 24th trip to the Big Dance.
In 2005, Iowa (21-12) was a tenth seed going up against No. 7 Cincinnati. In its matchup with Cincinnati, the tenth seeded Hawkeyes were out of the running early in the opening round game. The Bearcats displayed a more physical game that the Hawkeyes could not compete with. The game was all Cincinnati from the start when the Bearcats went on a 21-3 run. In the first 11 minutes of the game, Iowa only had one field goal and three free throws. The Hawkeyes had missed 13 of its first 14 shots.
Before last year's opening round loss, the Hawkeyes had not been appeared in the Tournament since 2006. It had entered the Tournament that year coming off of a Big Ten Tournament championship win; However, Iowa was again upset in a down-to-the-wire game. During its regular season, it had earned itself a No. 3 seed; however, the Hawkeyes lost 64-63 to No. 14 Northwestern State. The Hawkeyes had led by 17 with 8½ minutes left, but the Demons from Natchitoches, La., rallied back for the second time in the game (Iowa started the game on an 18-4 run). Iowa led 63-61 with 14.6 seconds left. But senior star Greg Brunner could only knock down one of two foul shots, setting up Northwestern State's Jermaine Wallace's last second three-point heave. The shot would the Hawkeyes stunned in its second-straight opening round loss. Iowa's 19 turnovers also played a crucial role in the deficit.
Last year against Tennessee, Iowa lost in the first major comeback game of the 2014 tournament. The Hawkeyes had been in front for the entire game before Tennessee's Antonio Barton hit a three to put his team up 59-57 with 3:05 left in regulation. The game went into overtime where Iowa went scoreless in its 78-65 defeat.
2014 only added on to the Hawkeyes Tournament struggles. The Tennessee loss contributed to the Hawkeyes fourth loss in five tournament games since 2001.
Coming off its inconsistent regular season, Iowa looks to break the consistency that it has found itself fall to in their past few appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Most recent trips to the Big Dance have presented the Iowa Hawkeyes as a team that has yet to find a way to get past the opening round. The question is: what can make 2015 different for the Hawkeyes?