7. Iowa (21-11, 12-6/Big Ten)–The Hawkeyes are back in the Big Dance after a 21-win season and a 12-6 finish in one of the best leagues in the country. Iowa has a couple of excellent big men in 6-9 senior Aaron White (16 points, 7.5 rebounds per), and 6-8 junior Jarrod Uthoff (12.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg). White earned first team All-Big Ten honors, and as he goes, so go the Hawks.
Iowa didn’t win very many of its statement games (save for a Dec. 3 win at North Carolina and a 71-55 home triumph over Maryland), and did have some bad losses (Minnesota, Northwestern, Penn State). But the Hawkeyes did go 10-6 against NCAA Tournament teams.
The problem for Iowa is its guards, which struggled shooting the 3 this season, and didn’t do enough to support White and Uthoff.
120th Points per game (69.4)
55th Assists per game (14.4)
57th Points Allowed (61.9)
10. Davidson (24-7, 14-4/Atlantic 10)–One of the themes of Selection Sunday was the complete lack of respect for the Atlantic 10, which was hoping to land five bids but had to settle for three. League champion Davidson, which once owned the Southern Conference, afforded itself very well in its new digs in the A-10, going 14-4 and putting together a 10-game winning streak before being dump-trucked by VCU in the conference semis.
The strength of schedule wasn’t great, and that’s probably why the Wildcats were seeded 10th, but make no mistake–this is a good basketball team. Senior guard Tyler Kalinoski averages 17 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 47% from the field and 43% from the three-point line. (In other words, dude can ball). He ain’t the only one though–5-11 sophomore Jack Gibbs put up 16.3 points and 4.8 assists per game, and Brian Sullivan (12.8 per) and Jordan Barnham (11.9, 6 rpg) are focal points, too.
6th Points per game (79.9)
3rd Assists per game (17.2)
31st Field Goal Percentage (.471)
PREDICTION: Davidson shoots the heck out of the ball, shares the heck out of the ball, and rebounds and defends pretty well, too. Iowa has some bigs who can cause problems, but bigs don’t win games in the NCAA Tournament. Guards do. That’s why we’re taking the Wildcats to win in round one and make things interesting before falling to Gonzaga in the Round of 32.