The Hawkeye men needed to win their last two home games and maybe two games in the Big Ten Tournament to have a shot at the NCAA tournament.
The got one in a good win over Illinois, 63-55, last week at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
It was another one of those grind-it-out games, but Devyn Marble and Iowa’s bench were too tough for the Fighting Illini.
Devyn was 10-10 from the free throw line, scoring 21 points with six rebounds and four assists.
Devyn has really stepped up his game since Mike Gesell went down with a foot injury, and has carried the team to a 2-1 record without Mike.
I think every Hawkeye fan in the state of Iowa has been waiting for Josh Oglesby to break out and have a big game shooting.
Josh has good form shooting, and is hitting on 83 percent from the free throw line in Big Ten play, but his 3-point shooting has not been there… until last week against Illinois.
Josh hit two big threes in the second half and finished with 10 points as the Hawk bench outscored the Illini bench, 20-9.
Gabe Olaseni had a career-high seven blocks coming off the bench as the 6-10 sophomore is playing with more confidence and making an impact.
It was good to see Adam Woodbury get 8 points and five rebounds in only 17 minutes of action. Adam also had two blocks.
That’s a good one-two punch with Adam and Gabe.
Last Saturday at Carver was senior day and Eric May, the lone senior, helped the Hawkeyes to their first 20-win season since 2006, beating Nebraska 74-60.
“It’s really been an interesting journey for this team,” said coach Fran McCaffery, who picked up his 300th win. “We came through the non-conference schedule pretty good. We started league play with a very daunting initial part. We had some very difficult losses on the road but performed well. I’m just so proud of this team and their effort to change how they were going to defend. We’ve got a lot of season left and we’re going down to Chicago to win a championship.”
Eric May has been through some tough times at Iowa.
In Eric’s first year, Todd Lickliter’s last, he started 23 games, averaged 9.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and had 26 blocked shots. Iowa finished 10-21, 4-14 in the Big Ten.
Year two, with Fran McCaffery as head coach, Eric started 25 games, averaged 7.8 points and 2.9 rebounds. Iowa was 11-20, 4-14 in the Big Ten.
Last year Eric started 21 games, was hurt, averaged 4.3 points and 2.4 rebounds. The Hawks were 18-17, 8-10 in the Big Ten and won two games in the NIT.
This year Eric was the main man off the bench, starting four games, averaging 4.9 points and 3.8 rebounds.
Iowa finished the regular season at 20-11, 9-9 in the Big Ten. They are seeded sixth in the tournament and play Northwestern Thursday night.
They played from start to finish in the win over Nebraska.
Four players in double figures, led by Aaron White with 19, rebound advantage 39-22, and a 24-10 advantage in bench points.
Adam Woodbury and Gabe Olaseni combined for 16 points, six boards, four assists and four blocked shots.
Do they need at least two more wins to get into the NCAA Tournament?
The good news is Iowa will send nine wrestlers to the NCAA tournament. Every weight except 149.
Also, Iowa had nine wrestlers finish in the top four, more than any other school.
The bad news, Iowa had four wrestlers in the finals and lost all four, finishing third in the Big Ten Tournament.
That’s the first time since 2006 that the Hawks didn’t have a champion.
“There’s no doubt we need to do certain things to be tougher,” said head coach Tom Brands. “It starts with finishing. It starts with urgency in those situations.”
Matt McDonough (125), Tony Ramos, (133), Mark Ballweg (141) and Mike Evans (174) finished second.
Matt was seeded number one. Tony and Mike were two seeds and Mark was a three seed.
Derek St. John (157), beaten by one point in the semifinals, finished third, as did Ethen Lofthouse (184) and Bobby Telford (Hwt.).
Derek was also a top seed. Ethen was seeded fifth and Bobby fourth.
Bobby lost a tough 1-0 decision to top-ranked Tony Nelson of Minnesota in the semifinals.
Nick Moore (165) and Nathan Burak (197) both finished fourth. Nick was seeded fourth and Nathan sixth.
The Hawks had four wrestlers finish higher than their seeds, two that were ranked first finishing second.
The Big Ten meet has the top ranked wrestler in the nation at every weight except 149, so if Iowa can crank it up a notch, they will have a shot in the NCAA meet in Des Moines starting March 21.