Remember last weekend when the Iowa women’s team turned Minneapolis into Carver-North? Well, the men’s team may be on the opposite end of the “neutral site” debacle. Selection Sunday is here, and the Hawkeyes are facing the Auburn Tigers…. in Birmingham, Alabama. Two hours away from Auburn’s campus. Interesting.
You can’t whine or complain if you’re a fan — the team had it coming. Taking care of Nebraska would’ve resolved this. But a pair of hideous losses to end the season doomed Iowa into an unenvious spot.
But here’s the good news: There’s another team — or fanbase rather, that can save the day. And no, I’m not talking about the orange krush. I’ll toss it to Connor McCaffery.
“We’ve definitely been kind of used to some road environments but also what you have to know is we’re playing in Birmingham and Alabama is there too, so they’re going be rooting for us because they hate Auburn. So hopefully we’ve got the Alabama fans on our side.”
It sounds like we’re witnessing the birth of the ‘Black and Gold Tide’ alliance.
Kris Murray and Filip Rebraca are treating it like a road game, and perhaps rightfully so.
“We’re not really playing anywhere close to Iowa, so definitely have to have that mentality like we did,” Murray said. “We went to Minnesota. We went to Rutgers. We went to Indiana. Just have to get there and I think we’ll be good.”
“They’re really close (Auburn to Birmingham),” Rebraca said. “It’s good to have an away game and I know we haven’t done well with away games all year. This is our time to prove otherwise we can actually play on the road.”
But, I think Fran McCaffery put it best.
Iowa (19-13) vs Auburn (20-12) is a battle of two teams who have sputtered in the last month or so. The Tigers have lost nine of their previous 13 games, They, like Iowa, were bounced out of their conference tournament in the first game.
Last year, Auburn, as a #2 seed, lost in the second round to #10 Miami. It almost reminds me of when #5 Iowa lost to #12 Richmond in the round of 64…. last year. Regardless, the winner takes on the victor of #1 Houston vs #16 Northern Kentucky.
And maybe — just maybe — this is the beginning of the year Fran McCaffery makes the Sweet Sixteen.
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