Hawkeyes Win Big Ten Title, Will Face Richmond in NCAA Tournament
The Iowa men's basketball squad just won their first Big Ten Tournament Championship for the first time since 2006, defeating the Purdue Boilermakers Sunday afternoon, 75-66.
It's not like they were the favorites, either.
Though the Hawkeyes have once again risen to relevance within the last decade under the tutelage of Fran McCaffery, Iowa is largely still known as a wrestling school.
Hawkeye forward and contender for National Player of the Year Keegan Murray said it was always the plan to change that:
We knew we were destined for greatness. We changed the history of the Iowa program today.
Earning tournament MVP, Murray led the way Iowa, posting a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds. He also set the tournament record for scoring, putting up 103 points over four games and obliterating the previous record set by Ohio State's Duan Washington Jr. in 2021, 92 points.
This was Murray's stat line in the previous three contests:
- Northwestern - 26 points, 8 rebounds
- Rutgers - 26 points, 8 rebounds
- Indiana, 32 points, 9 rebounds
It certainly wasn't just the Murray show, though.
Tony Perkins (11) and freshman Payton Sandfort (10) each reached double digits in scoring, Joe Touissant snagged four steals, the Iowa defense forced 17 turnovers, and Coach McCaffery was strategically played 12 men as Josh Ogundele and Riley Mulvey each received a surprising amount of time due to foul trouble.
This was a team-wide win, from players to head coach.
Here's what Coach McCaffrey said after the game:
This team is really special to me. I am coaching both of my boys and to watch them celebrate with their teammates, their brothers … there's no better feeling.
The Hawkeyes earned a five-seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they will take on twelfth-seeded Richmond in the first round. The game will be on Thursday in Buffalo, New York.
The Spiders won the Atlantic 10 Tournament en route to earning an automatic bid to March Madness. They finished the season with a 23-12 record.
They've got three players who average double-figures in scoring per contest in Tyler Burton (16.3), Grant Golden (14.1), and Jacob Gilyard (13.3). The team averages 71.7 points per game and allows 68.3.
Richmond played Northern Iowa on December 5, defeating the Panthers in the McLeod Center 60-52.
After falling to Texas Tech 72-41 in the first round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament, Iowa State earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament as well. They will be an eleven-seed, facing off with six-seed LSU.
The Tigers went 22-11 this season, including finishing 9-9 in the SEC. LSU's leading scorer is Tari Eason, who puts up 16.9 ppg, and Darius Days is second at 13.7. As a team, they average 73.1 points and allow 63.5.
LSU recently fired their head coach Will Wade, due to NCAA recruiting violations. Their interim head coach is Kevin Nickelberry.
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