Iowans should enjoy this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament as they never have before.
For only the second time in history, all three of the state’s public universities will have their teams involved in the 68-team field.
All of them will learn later today exactly where they are seeded, who they are playing and where they are headed when the NCAA field is unveiled at 5 p.m.
“There shouldn’t be a college basketball fan in the state who isn’t happy right now because we’re all going to make the tournament,’’ Iowa forward Aaron White said.
Not only will Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa all make it, they all will be seeded No. 8 or higher.
Iowa State is considered a likely No. 3 seed while UNI could be as high as No. 4 and Iowa is generally regarded to be in the 7 to 8 range.
That’s a big improvement over 2005, the only previous time all of them made the field. On that occasion, Iowa State was a No. 9, Iowa a 10 and UNI an 11.
Only the Cyclones won their first-round game, beating Minnesota before being routed by eventual national champion North Carolina. The Hawkeyes lost to Cincinnati in the opening round and the Panthers lost to Wisconsin.
In the case of the Hawkeyes, the warm feelings of seeing their name on the screen today should help melt the icy dismay of Thursday, when they were bumped out of the Big Ten Tournament by Penn State.
“That’s something that always makes every coach and every player proud …’’ Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of Selection Sunday. “I always hope that every player I coach gets a chance to play in that tournament once, hopefully four times, which is hard. This team deserves it. It’ll be an exciting day for all of us.’’
The Hawkeyes (21-11) won their last six games of the regular season before being upset by Penn State.
McCaffery said he didn’t expect his players to have any trouble bouncing back from that disappointment.
“There’s a lot of character in that locker room,’’ he said “There’s no question in my mind they’re going to do that.’’
He said his players just needed to step back, refocus and recognize what went awry against the Nittany Lions.
“You don’t really flush it. You study it,’’ McCaffery said. “You make some teaching points and you hold some people accountable for what they didn’t do without just belaboring it to the point where ‘OK coach, I get it. You don’t have to say it five times. You said it once.’ And then you move on and try to get better.’’
Northern Iowa (30-3) has not played since a week ago today when it won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship with a victory over Illinois State.
Iowa State (24-8) also won its conference tournament Saturday, defeating Kansas 70-66 in the Big 12 championship game.