Hawkeyes Dancing

A season that ended on a down-turn was looking up Sunday night when it was announced that the Iowa basketball team was returning to the NCAA Tournament after a seven-season absence.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Iowa ended a seven-year NCAA Tournament drought Sunday night when the bracket was announced. It came as a welcomed relief for a team that had lost six of its last seven.

The 11-seeded Hawkeyes return to college basketball's marque event Wednesday when they face fellow No. 11 Tennessee at 8:10 p.m. central time in Dayton as part of the Midwest Region. It's a play-in game with the winner traveling to Raleigh to face No. 6 UMass.

Iowa last played in the Field of 68 during the 2005-06 season. The Hawkeyes earned a third seed after finishing second in the Big Ten regular season and winning the conference tournament. No. 14 Northwestern State upset them, 64-63, in Auburn Hills.

The recent NCAA absence for Iowa represented its longest since a stretch of futility from 1971-78. From '79 to '99, a span of 21 seasons, the Hawkeyes made the field 16 times. In the 14 years since then, they reached it three times.

Fran McCaffery led his fourth different school to the Big Dance. He previously guided Lehigh, UNC-Greensboro and Siena there.

Iowa finished the season with a 67-62 loss to underdog Northwestern Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. They fell to 20-12 after being 9-9 in conference during the regular season.

The Hawkeyes couldn't stop their descent when given a chance in the league event. Now, they're provided a chance to make a run in the tournament that means the most.

We're at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for interview with Coach McCaffery and selected players. Please check back later tonight for reaction from the happy Hawkeyes.

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