Why Hawkeyes are feeling good entering Villanova matchup
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Iowa heads into the second round in the NCAA Tournament with an extra bit of confidence after Friday’s stirring, 72-70 overtime win over Temple.
“It should,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “For us, to shoot such a low number and get outrebounded and compete the way we did and figure out a way, at this time of year, that’s what you have to be able to do.”
Yes, the Hawkeyes survived their first-round test against the 10th-seeded Owls despite shooting 35 percent and getting outrebounded 49-38.
Those numbers won’t cut it at 11:10 a.m. Sunday against second-seeded Villanova, but the important thing is that the Hawkeyes are there.
“We get another chance to lace ‘em up,” point guard Mike Gesell said. “It’s so awesome.”
In Villanova, the Hawkeyes will face an efficient team that is one of three teams in the country to rank in the nation’s top 10 in KenPom.com’s adjusted offense and defense categories (No. 1 seeds Virginia and Kansas are the others).
The Wildcats blistered UNC-Asheville 86-56 earlier Friday behind 58 percent shooting.
But despite the short turnaround, Iowa doesn’t have to go far to get familiar with the Big East Conference regular-season champion. Iowa assistant coach Andrew Francis served as an administrative assistant for Wildcats coach Jay Wright for two years, and the Hawkeyes faced them in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas two seasons ago.
Villanova won that game 88-83 in overtime after overcoming a 15-point second-half deficit. The Wildcats weren’t bashful from 3-point range in that game (14-for-38), and they aren’t now (13-for-28 on Friday).
“No matter how big they get down,” Francis said, “they’re going to always believe they can win.
“They shoot the ball, they spread you out a little bit. They share the ball. They’re going to be a unique cover in that sense, where they have a couple guys who can score. But they’re willing passers. So they’re going to challenge your defense to stay disciplined, your rotations to be sharp, your communication to be good. It’s a test I know we’re more than capable of doing.”
McCaffery, a Philadelphia native, and Wright go way back — and learned from the same master.
“Both of us learned a lot from Rollie Massimino,” McCaffery said. “We both have the same press; we learned it from the same guy. It’s a team that has sort of been the gold standard of the Big East for quite some time.”