I want to go on record right now and agree with what the University of Iowa student newspaper the Daily Iowan wrote about last week.
The NIT has been a better experience for the Hawkeye men’s basketball team than an NCAA tournament berth would have been.
To me, it’s an easy call actually, but the Daily Iowan has taken a lot of heat for taking that stance.
Yes, earning an NCAA tournament berth is the ultimate goal is for every program every season. It was for the Hawks this year too. Iowa was one of the first teams out according to most tournament experts after posting a more than stellar 9-9 record in what was by far the toughest conference in the country.
Most feel Iowa would have been anywhere from a 10-12 seed if they had made the field of 68, and would have faced a stiff challenge right off the bat in the NCAA tourney.
Having received a three-seed in the NIT (which was a total travesty), Iowa has been able to stay alive, and thus allow the young team more playing time against quality competition.
Even head coach Fran McCaffery didn’t expect his team to be this good this soon, thus the easy pre-season schedule which actually cost the Hawks their NCAA berth.
An NIT Final Four appearance is going to do this Iowa team a lot of good, and make the Hawks one of the favorites in the Big Ten next winter.