Iowa had the ball coming out of a timeout with just over 30 seconds remaining and trailing by two. Steve Alford devised a play that was all or nothing; win it, or go home. If you saw Greg Brunner patting Adam Haluska's head coming out of a timeout, and Haluska wipe himself down with a towel before taking the court; that was a harbinger.
Jeff Horner held the ball out top until 13 seconds remained. He began to get set up top, drove right and looked like he was running out of bounds on the baseline. But he whipped a pass under the basket to a waiting Haluska in the left corner.
Haluska's three was short, but the carom went straight up and Brunner tipped the ball in with 03.7 seconds to go.
After two timeouts, Wisconsin inbounded the ball to Tucker, some 80-feet away from the basket. He was hounded by Haluska all the way up the court and banked home the running three.
In my opinion, that was what Iowa wanted with the last play; force Wisconsin to get the ball in play deep in the backcourt with the receiver's back to his basket.
Iowa trailed by one point at halftime and fell behind by 10 points in the second half. The Hawkeyes were visibly winded midway through the second stanza.
But Mike Henderson took control, scoring seven straight Iowa points, cutting the deficit to just three points.
It's impossible to be critical of Iowa in this game, as they were playing their third contest in as many days and playing in their sixth straight ‘must win' game.
Unofficially, Iowa and Wisconsin each recorded 31 rebounds on the game as Iowa turned in its third impressive performance on the glass. As is typically the case when you play Wisconsin, they had a low number of turnovers, just six, compared to Iowa's 13. 13 is not a bad number, but against Wisconsin, it's the turnover margin between the teams that will always come back to haunt you.
Iowa shot the ball well from the line, making 12 of 15. Erek Hansen stuck two free throws late in the game to tie it.
Hansen had nine points, six rebounds and three blocks on the game, capping a solid BTT. Brunner led Iowa in scoring & rebounding with 18 and seven.
A weary Horner scored 12 points and dished out six assists, but you could tell that his legs just were not there in the second half. Haluska scored 10 and Henderson scored seven.
Wisconsin had 23 bench points to Iowa's zero.
Brunner scored his 1,000th point in the first half.
This was Iowa's fourth closely contested game in it's last five. Iowa had won the previous three, but this time, the ‘miracle' was on other foot.
ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lundardi had Iowa safely in the tournament as of Saturday morning, as they were not one of his ‘last four out'.
In a sampling of national talking heads and websites, there are differing opinions as to whether or not Iowa punched its dance card with its strong finish.
Clark Kellog, Andy Katz, Lunardi, FoxSports, CNNSI and other feel that Iowa is in. Seth Davis and some others feel they are not.
One thing is for certain; Iowa fans have reason to tune into Sunday's Selection Show for the first time in a long time. By my count, Iowa has not been in this position, not knowing whether or not it has secured an NCAA bid, since at least the 1997-1998 season and then back to the 1985-1986 season. Iowa did not receive a bid in 1998 and they were an 11 seed in 1986.
Iowa certainly wants to see Pacific win its tournament title tonight, as they cannot afford any upsets of that variety.
My prediction: Iowa (21-11) is in, and they will be a 10 or 11 seed. The 10 plays a seven and the 11 plays the six.