Hawkeyes headed back to the NIT

IOWA CITY – The University of Iowa men’s basketball team has earned a No. 3 seed in the National Invitational Tournament and will host Indiana State at 6 p.m. Wednesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes (21-12) missed out on their first NCAA tournament bid in seven years after losing to Michigan State 59-56 on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Conference tournament. Though Iowa won 10 Big Ten games, its lack of quality non-conference and road victories proved to be its undoing.

Iowa is back in the NIT for the second year in a row. The Hawkeyes beat Dayton before losing at Oregon last season.

“This is a tremendous opportunity, it’s a phenomenal field,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. “You watch those names come up and you think you’re watching the NCAA bracket. It just goes to show you how many quality teams there are, how many great college basketball players there are and phenomenal coaches in this tournament.

“We’re just thrilled to have a home game. I just hope that our fans came through for us like they did last year.”

Indiana State (18-14) finished 9-9 in the Missouri Valley but lost three of its last four, including a Missouri Valley Conference tournament semifinal defeat at the hands of Creighton.

It’s a school record fourth consecutive postseason appearance for the Sycamores, who played in the CBI in 2010, won the MVC tournament in 2011 for an NCAA berth, and then played in the CIT last season.

Indiana State is the only Missouri Valley team in the NIT, and Iowa the only Big Ten team in the field.

The Hawkeyes, who won 10 and lost 10 in the nation’s toughest league, likely saw their NCAA tournament hopes dashed when they lost to Michigan State 59-56 in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.

“Obviously it’s a great opportunity to keep playing, there’s a lot of teams sitting at home wishing they were playing in the NIT, so you’ve got to look at it that way,” said Iowa sophomore forward Aaron White. “We’ve got a couple days turnaround to get ready for Wednesday night.

“(Indiana State) has some good wins, they beat two NCAA tournament teams, so that kind of catches your eye when you’re looking at their resume.”

Sycamores head coach Greg Lansing was a seven-year assistant on the Iowa staff, and also coached at Des Moines Roosevelt.