Iowa was awarded with the 7-seed in the South region of the NCAA Tournament. They'll open up play in Brooklyn against the 10-seed Temple. The Owls finished the season 21-11 overall and 14-4 in the American Athletic Conference. They defeated both Connecticut and Cincinnati twice.
Hawkeye Insider dives into the takeaways from Iowa's draw.
OPENING MATCHUP WITH TEMPLE
Temple may be one of the more scrutinized inclusions of the NCAA Tournament. Many think they do not belong, along with Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and Tulsa. Many thought programs like Saint Mary's, St. Bonaventure, San Diego State, and Monmouth. Me personally, I had Temple included. I did not have Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and Tulsa in my field.
The Owls do have 5 wins over Top 50 teams and that is why they are apart of the field. They defeated UConn and Cincinnati both twice as well as SMU. They do have some rough losses; Memphis and East Carolina.
Temple does lack size which should work in Iowa's favor when Adam Woodbury is on the floor. Their three frontcourt starters are 6-foot-7, 6-foot-7, and 6-foot-8. They also do not shoot it well. Their formula has been strong defense and taking care of the ball. This would seem to be a promising matchup for the Hawkeyes but in most of the brackets I filled out, I had Temple winning because Iowa has played so poorly of late.
SOUTH REGION IS TOUGH
The committee did Iowa no favors. They aren't playing close to home and they're playing a Philadelphia-based program in Brooklyn. But there's other reasons, too. The Hawkeyes are in the same region as Vanderbilt, Wichita State, Arizona, UConn, Kansas, Maryland, California, Miami, and Villanova. That is quite a few teams capable of making a run in addition to Iowa. There's bluebloods, programs with notorious tournament success, and a few top 10 programs. They'll be challenged in every contest if they are to advance.
Should Iowa get past Temple, they'll lock up with Villanova who was the top team in the country for a few weeks according to the polls. Jay Wright's program is known for early tournament exits, though.
Their Sweet 16 matchup would likely be against Miami, Arizona, Wichita State, or Vanderbilt. I could see any of the four advancing that far. The Hurricanes have scorers and have a terrific coach in Jim Larranaga. Arizona is a blueblood with a fantastic coach as well in Sean Miller and played a tough schedule in the Pac-12. Wichita State is a team that Iowa has already defeated but they do well in tournament play. The Shockers were without VanVleet, one of their best players, when they met the Hawkeyes early in the season. Vanderbilt has a lot of talent but underachieved for a large portion of the year.
Their last matchups would be against either Kansas, Maryland, or California in my opinion. Kansas is deep and experienced and the top program in the country at this time. Maryland has an argument as the most talented team in the tournament. They're length with Jake Layman and Robert Carter is a bad matchup for Iowa. California is another roster full of future NBA players and they're playing their best basketball. It is tough to see Iowa knocking off any of the three.
Everyone is always looking for the next Cinderella of the NCAA Tournament. Who are those possibilities in the South region? I don't think you can ignore whoever will be the 11-seed out of Vanderbilt or Wichita State. Both have the talent to win a few games. Connecticut is a 9-seed and everyone knows what they're capable of in March. Other than those three, I think it could be a lot of chalk the rest of the way.
Everyone likes Kansas this year but I never trust them a whole lot in March. They're certainly capable of reaching the Final Four but they don't advance that far in any of my brackets. Villanova is the same way but I do love their draw and that alone could push them to Houston for the Final Four. Miami is a wild card because I believe they have one of the best coaches in the country. My favorite team to take in the South region has been Maryland. When they're clicking there's not a better team in the country. If they figure it out for a stretch of multiple games, they're the most dangerous in my mind.