Hawkeyes Draw Cincinnati in NCAA Tournament

March 17, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Fran McCaffery Selection Sunday Press Conference

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IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa ended a two-year NCAA Tournament drought Sunday when it was selected into the field for the first time since 2016. The Hawkeyes were chosen for the fourth time in the last six seasons.

Tenth-seeded Iowa (22-11) will face No. 7 Cincinnati (28-6) in a first-round on Friday in Columbus, Ohio (11:15 a.m. CT, CBS) as part of the South Region. The winner meets up with the survivor of No. 2 Tennessee and No. 15 Colgate on Sunday.

Three years ago, the Hawkeyes knocked off Temple in the first round before falling to eventual national champion Villanova the next game in Brooklyn. They also reached Round 2 in ’15.

Iowa will be looking for its first trip to the Sweet 16 in 20 years. This is its seventh time in the tournament in the last two decades.

Mick Cronin has coached Cincinnati since 2006, when Bob Huggins left for Kansas State. The Bearcats have reached the NCAA Tournament nine years in a row, reaching the Sweet 16 once (’12).

“Mick Cronin is a real good friend of mine, excellent coach, great guy,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “It’s a tremendous defensive team. They pride themselves on their defensive effort and intensity. They can score, too. They’ve got good players.”

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The Hawkeyes will be trying to string together some wins after losing five of their last six games heading into the championship. Michigan routed them by 21 points in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday.

Iowa and Cincinnati met in the first round of ’05 NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis. The Bearcats won, 76-64. That was the only time they faced each other in the Big Dance.

They captured the American Athletic Tournament championship on Sunday, defeating Houston. They finished second in the league during the regular season with a 14-4 mark.

The Hawkeyes and Cincinnati are scheduled to meet at United Center next season in Chicago on Dec. 21 as part of a doubleheader. Dayton will face Colorado in the other contest.

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Cincinnati has won eight of its last 10 games this season. Jarron Cumberland, who Iowa offered a scholarship when he was at Wilmington (OH) High, led the Bearcats in scoring this season at more than 18 points a game.

“Jarron Cumberland is a tremendous player,” McCaffery said. “He’s versatile. As good as he was then (during recruiting), I think he’s even better now. He’s really continued to improve, in particular as a scorer. He’s always ben able to do a lot of things athletically at both ends, but he’s really become an incredibly consistent player.”

While Columbus sits more than 500 miles from Iowa City, Cincinnati needs to only travel a little more than 100 miles to its first-round game.

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“That’s going to add a whole other element but at the same time, it’s neutral site,” Hawkeye senior Nicholas Baer said. “We’re looking forward to it. We have an opportunity play against a really tough team in Cincinnati and we couldn’t be more excited.”

At least one Hawkeye was happy to hear the team was heading to Columbus. Junior guard Maishe Dailey grew up two hours away in Beachwood, a Cleveland suburb.

“Maishe about two minutes (after the announcement) started asking for tickets,” Baer said. “So, that’s how it goes. I’m sure they’ll be hard to come by, but I’m sure he’s looking forward to going back to Ohio.”

Tyler Cook, a junior from St. Louis, was hoping got San Jose, Calif. for the nice weather conditions.

“That would have been nice but you have to play the game regardless. We’re all excited with there we’re at. We just have to make sure we’re locked in and playing the best basketball that we can play,” he said.

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