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Michael Baer has great admiration for older brother and Hawkeye teammate Nicholas. Listen: Mark Emmert, memmert@gannett.com

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Nicholas Baer has always been one of Michael Baer's role models.

Big brother and little brother, alike yet different, one leading the other by example.

After a few school years apart, the two had been back together this basketball season as Iowa Hawkeyes.

Nicholas, a redshirt senior, saw his career come to a close Sunday with Iowa's overtime loss to Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Michael, a sophomore, saw his own short every-minute reunion reach its virtual end, as well, and he shared his gratitude in a moving Instagram post Monday afternoon.

"We laughed, joked, played, and I followed you everywhere because I wanted to be just like my brother," said Michael of his first 14 years before Nicholas left Bettendorf for Iowa City.

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Michael's "closest confidant" was briefly gone, and even the time together over holiday breaks didn't feel the same.

"... This is what makes the end of your career so hard," he continued. "We were blessed with an amazing opportunity to fulfill our dreams as Hawkeyes, but maybe the biggest blessing was that I got to see my brother and best friend every day.

"This speaks to your personality and character, because I have gotten to see firsthand what makes you one of the greatest Hawkeyes of all time. Just as I looked up to you when I was young, you have inspired a whole generation of Hawkeye fans to be just like you."

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Iowa fifth-year senior Nicholas Baer reacts after playing the final game of his college basketball career. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central

Baer finished his career at Iowa with 794 points, 578 rebounds, 169 assists, 140 3-pointers, 121 blocked shots and 132 steals. He earned the universal respect and admiration of his Hawkeyes teammates.

“I told him, 'I’ve been doing this for over 30 years,'” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “'I’ve never been around anyone like you.' I’m going to miss him.”

So will little brother.

"You have made a lifelong impact on me that you may never realize," Michael wrote in his post. "You are truly one-of-a-kind. We shall never see your like again.

"And now his watch is ended."

Later Monday, Nicholas Baer authored a quick reply of his own: "Love you brother, this year with you has been a major blessing. Your turn now! Night gathers and now your watch begins."

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For the first 14 years of my life I spent nearly every waking moment with you. We laughed, joked, played, and I followed you everywhere because I wanted to be just like my brother. Suddenly, you went off to college and my best friend and closest confidant was not part of my everyday life for three years. You would come home from breaks and we would pick up where we left off but it wasn’t the same as seeing you everyday. This is what makes the end of your career so hard. We were blessed with an amazing opportunity to fulfill our dreams as Hawkeyes, but maybe the biggest blessing was that I got to see my brother and best friend everyday. This speaks to your personality and character because I have gotten to see first hand what makes you one of the greatest Hawkeyes of all time. Just as I looked up to you when I was young, you have inspired a whole generation of Hawkeye fans to be just like you. Although it’s sad that it’s over and you feel sadness right now, I hope you also feel the impact you have had on each Hawkeye coach, player, and fan. You have made a lifelong impact on me that you may never realize. You are truly one of a kind. We shall never see your like again. And now his watch is ended.

A post shared by Michael Baer (@michaelbaer5) on

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Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon left it all out there, and he will miss Nicholas Baer, too. The Hawkeyes fell, 83-77, to Tennessee in overtime. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central

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