Schwartz: 10 Sentences from an Insane Basketball Weekend

March 25, 2019

Written by David Schwartz

Iowa basketball took center stage this weekend. We got nail biters, successful comebacks, and unsuccessful comebacks that set the NCAA Tournament on fire. Ten sentences to remember four games over three crazy days:

1. I’m sure there have been better days – better moments – in Hawkeye sports history, probably many, but I can’t think of one in the last several years in which I have felt so proud to be a fan as I did on Sunday.

2. Each in their own way, the basketball teams showed what they’re made of, fought through their shortcomings, eliminated any doubt that they belonged where they currently reside in their respective worlds.

3. The women’s team dropped Mizzou, 68-52, to reach the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 and further validate their No. 2 seed, which was so vital, so necessary following a first-round game Friday in which they were nearly upset by Mercer, but despite the wide margin of the final score they had to endure the Tigers’ successful first quarter Sunday that left them with a four-point lead following a half-court three-pointer to end the period.

4. It’s almost as if the Hawkeyes needed a challenge to shake them loose of their nerves – wake-up call is too cliché and not entirely accurate – but they needed … something – it’s hard to say what – but somewhere during the second quarter they finally remembered who they are: a fast, strong, smart pain in the ass with more energy than most teams are willing to match.

5. The Hawkeyes are a legit 2-seed, but next Saturday when they play either Kentucky or North Carolina State it won’t matter what seed they are; with only 16 teams remaining, it’s a safe bet that everyone can beat everyone depending how the stars align at any given moment.

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6. Raise your hand if you felt something between resignation and disgust toward the men’s team during the first half of their loss to Tennessee – I did, more toward the resignation end of the spectrum because of how unbelievably well the Vols were playing.

7. During halftime my mind turned to next season and the arrivals and returns of new and familiar faces – Patrick McCaffery, Cordell Pemsl, CJ Fredrick, Jack Nunge, Joe Toussaint – and after I remembered that there will still be only 200 total minutes to go around per game, and after I remembered that it still doesn’t feel like we’ve really got that point guard problem totally solved, I thought, OK, next year’s team looks like it has another decent shot of making the NCAA Tournament.

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8. The point is, 2018-19 was dead by halftime – except it wasn’t.

9. Given a choice between the Hawkeyes beating Tennessee in ho-hum fashion or having them come back from 25 down to force overtime before losing, any sane person would choose the ho-hum victory, but as games with disappointing conclusions go, it doesn’t get better than Sunday, when the Hawkeyes in the second half did everything they should have done in the first, Tennessee fell off its scorching pace, and for about an hour Sunday there was no bigger sports story in the nation than the Iowa Hawkeyes’ near-record basketball comeback.

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10. Of course we wish Iowa played far better in the first half – there’s no debating that; yet here’s the deal: around noon Sunday, the Hawkeyes looked like a bunch chumps to the college basketball universe, but an hour and a half later Iowa, just by fighting back to force overtime, had given the 2019 NCAA Tournament one of its signature moments, and that’s something worth keeping.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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