After improbable tourney run, Iowa looks for another
Updated: Sunday March 18, 2001 5:25 PM
By Ryan Hunt, CNNSI.com
The NCAA tournament doesn't have quite the grind of the conference tournaments. Yet for the teams who needed to win four conference tournament games in four days just to get to the Big Dance, there is rarely gas left in the tank for another run.
With its improbable run through the Big Ten tourney, Iowa became the seventh team to go 4-for-4 in its league tournament. However, only one of the past six teams to accomplish the feat won a game in NCAA tournament play.
Charlotte was the only team to advance past the first round. The 49ers needed four victories to earn the 1999 Conference USA tournament title and a No. 5 seed in the NCAAs. They then proceeded to win their opening-round game -- in overtime, no less -- against Rhode Island before falling to Oklahoma in the second round.
Most recently, Arkansas lost its first-round game to sixth-seeded Miami (Fla.) last year after the Razorbacks' stunning run through the SEC tourney. It happened in the C-USA tournament three times in a four-year span.
The Hawkeyes, who are the first team to win four games in the Big Ten tournament, are a No. 7 seed in the NCAA and open against 10th-seeded Creighton.
Iowa probably needed to win the conference tournament to secure an NCAA bid thanks to the Hawkeyes' 7-9 regular-season league record. Big Ten foe Penn State, however, was fortunate enough to receive an at-large berth with a similar 7-9 conference record.
It is only the third time two teams from the same conference went to the tournament despite losing league marks. Both previous times it happened in the ACC -- '91 (Georgia Tech and Virginia) and '98 (Clemson and Florida State).
Overall, 23 teams since 1983 have received at-large selections with losing conference records. Only four have made it to the Sweet 16 -- Virginia in '84 (which made it to the Final Four), Boston College in '85, LSU in '87 and Purdue in '99.
Good omen for the Cardinal?
Perhaps Stanford's loss to Arizona in the final week of the regular season was a good thing.
The Cardinal enter the tournament at 28-2 as the No. 1 seed in the West Region. Of the past five No. 1 seeds with two losses, four have gone on to win the national championship -- '92 Duke, '95 UCLA, '96 Kentucky and '99 Connecticut. UConn in 1996 is the lone exception.
But of the past five top seeds to head into the NCAA with one loss, none have won a national title -- '87 UNLV, '88 Temple, '96 UMass, '97 Kansas and '99 Duke.
Thirty-three different states plus the District of Columbia will be represented, but nobody has more representation than the state of California.
Six teams will come from the Golden State (Stanford, USC, UCLA, California, Fresno State and Cal State-Northridge). Coincidentally, Fresno State and California will face off in the first round.
Entering this year, there were only two occasions in which a state had six teams in one year in NCAA tournament history -- California in 1997 (California, Pacific, St. Mary's, USC, Stanford and UCLA ) and Indiana in 2000 (Ball State, Butler, Indiana, Indiana State, Purdue and Valparaiso).
Five teams from North Carolina are in NCAA tournament (Duke, UNC, Charlotte, Wake Forest and UNC-Greensboro).
UC-Irvine could have made it a record seven teams from California. But the Anteaters learned the first lesson for mid-major conference teams the hard way Sunday: You better win your conference tournament no matter how many wins you have.
Irvine (25-4) became only the seventh team eligible for postseason play sine 1985 to be snubbed from the tournament with at least 25 victories.
Davidson, which was 25-4 in 1996, was the last 25-win team to be excluded. The others: Howard (26-5 in '87), Southern Illinois (26-7 in '90), Wisconsin-Green Bay (25-4 in '92), Southern (25-5 in '90) and New Mexico (25-9 in '87).
Odds and ends