Eight years ago today, Iowa men dispatched Creighton 69-56 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It was the last time Iowa has won an NCAA Tournament game.
There are second-graders in this state who’ve never seen Iowa win an NCAA Tournament game. My daughter, for one, who was born March 16, 2001. The national milestones since that victory — Iraq War, first African-American president, economy headed for the next Great Depression — really toss dust on this statistic.
The sinking feeling grows into an ulcer for the basketball program is to look across the street. Iowa’s football program, led by Kirk Ferentz, has played in FIVE New Year’s Day bowls since the basketball program’s last NCAA Tournament win. Ferentz has led Iowa to bowls in seven of the last eight seasons since Iowa’s tournament win.
Since beating Creighton, Iowa has lost three NCAA tournament games. Kentucky beat Iowa in the 2001 second round 92-79. Iowa then lost to Cincinnati 76-64 in 2005 and suffered the big-time upset loss to No. 14 seed Northwestern State 64-63 in 2006.
This week I’ll count down the 10 best and worst moments of the 2008-09 men’s basketball season. Each day we’ll also include an aspect of this past season and look ahead to 2009-2010. I invite your comments as well. We’ll begin Monday with Nos. 10 and 9.
TODAY: THE SCHEDULE
Iowa’s 2008-09 non-conference schedule featured lots of frequent-flyer miles. Iowa played West Virginia and Kansas State in Las Vegas, at Boston College for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and at The Citadel (seriously) in Charleston, S.C. Iowa beat The Citadel (a 20-win team, by the way) going away, nipped K-State at the buzzer, lost with no time remaining at BC and was blown out against West Virginia. All of the teams were decent, Iowa went 2-2 so overall that was a push.
In-state, Iowa rolled Northern Iowa and Iowa State at home and was bombed by Drake in Des Moines. Iowa handled all other home non-conference scheduling with little problem.
Next fall, Iowa won’t leave the Midwest. The Hawkeyes will participate in Kansas City’s Guardians Classic on Nov. 23-24 at the new Sprint Center. The road games are Northern Iowa and Iowa State, while Drake comes to Iowa City. The Big Ten-ACC Challenge (we’ll flip it for location) comes to Iowa City. That’s a much lighter load for the players and the budget.