A magical run to a Big Ten Tournament title earned the Iowa Hawkeyes a No. 5 seed in the 2022 NCAA tournament.
The scorching-hot Hawkeyes (26-9), winners of 12 of their last 14 games, will match up against the 12th-seeded Richmond Spiders (23-12) at 2:10 p.m. Thursday in Buffalo, NY.
Brad Nessler, Brendan Haywood and Evan Washburn are handling play-by-play and color commentary duties on TruTV.
Iowa blitzed their way through the Big Ten tourney field, winning four games in as many days, highlighted by a 75-66 win over Purdue in Sunday’s final. The Hawks are only the fourth team in conference history to win four games in four days en route to the championship.
The impressive title secured the Hawks an NCAA tournament automatic berth for the first time since 2006 and the 20th-overall seed.
Iowa opened as a 10-point favorite over Richmond. The over/under total opened at 151.5 points.
Will the Hawkeyes make a deep run?
Iowa’s hopes of their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1999 lean on the nation’s fourth-leading scorer, Keegan Murray. The sophomore All-American candidate’s breakout (23.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg) piloted the Hawks to an impressive finish. The first team, All-Big Ten forward scored 19 or more points in all four Big Ten tourney games.
Iowa averages the fifth-most points per game nationally at 84. Their 16.1 assists per contest rank them 25th overall.
This marks back-to-back years the Hawkeyes have secured a No. 5 seed or better. They earned the second seed in last spring’s tournament, losing in the round of 32. Betting on the Hawkeyes for a long run can be a mixed prospect. Iowa has not won two games in the same NCAA Tournament in 23 years.
A-10 winning Spiders make long-awaited return to the Big Dance
The Richmond Spiders (23-12) were a surprise automatic addition to the tournament field Sunday afternoon. The Virginia-based school earned an automatic bid following a thrilling Atlantic 10 Tournament championship victory, 64-62 over Davidson.
Richmond finished sixth in the A-10 regular season standings. They are in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011, also winning four games in four days.
The Spiders average 71.9 points per game. Defensively, they surrender 68.5 points per outing. Richmond reached the Sweet 16 in its last NCAA tournament appearance, falling to Kansas in the 2011 regional semifinal.
Forward Tyler Burton leads this year’s squad in scoring at 16.3 points per game to go with a team-best 7.5 rebounds per contest. The Spiders have won seven of their last 10, also relying on Jacob Gilyard, who scored 32 points against VCU Friday and 26 more points Sunday in the tournament-clinching victory. Forward Grant Golden averages 14.3 points per game as Richmond’s second leading scorer.
The Spiders have made 279 total threes as a team at a 33.8 percent clip.
Richmond’s only Power 5 victory came against N.C. State, 83-74 back on Dec. 17.
What’s at stake for the Hawkeyes
If the Hawkeyes advance past the first round for a second straight year, they’d face either the regular-season Big East champion Providence Friars (the Midwest Region’s No. 4 seed) or the 13th-seeded South Dakota State Jackrabbits on Sunday in the second round.
Kansas (28-6) is the Midwest’s top seed while the Bruce Pearl-led Auburn Tigers (27-5) earned the region’s second seed. Co-Big Ten champ Wisconsin (24-7) captured the No. 3 seed in the Midwest region. Iowa’s in-state rival Iowa State was also placed in the Midwest Region, securing the 11th-seed. The Cyclones, who captured attention with an 18-win turnaround from last year’s two-win campaign, will take on sixth-seeded LSU Friday in Milwaukee.
Gonzaga secured the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed for the second year in a row, their fifth No. 1 seed in program history. The Final Four will be held Saturday, April 2 in New Orleans.
No. 5 seeds are 93-51 over No. 12 seeds since the field expanded to 64/68. At least one 12-seed has defeated a five seed in 31 out of the last 36 tournaments.