Iowa men’s basketball team to face Indiana with trip to Big Ten Tournament title game on the line

Iowa defeated Rutgers, 84-74, in the conference tournament quarterfinals on Friday and will play Indiana in the semifinals at noon (CT) on Saturday.


Dimia Burrell

Iowa guard Tony Perkins celebrates during an 84-74 win over Rutgers in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on March 11, 2022.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — Illinois head coach Brad Underwood walked off the court after the top-seeded Fighting Illini were upset by No. 9 seed Indiana on Friday afternoon. As he passed the Iowa men’s basketball team in the tunnel right before the Hawkeyes took the court for their Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal game against Rutgers, the rival coach delivered a simple message.

“Kick their asses,” Underwood told the Hawkeyes.

The Hawkeyes did just that.

Fifth-seeded Iowa defeated fourth-seeded Rutgers, 84-74, to advance to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament for the second straight year.

Keegan Murray’s 26 points moved him into first place on the program’s single-season scoring list (750 points this season), while Jordan Bohannon hit the 2,000-point mark for his career and Tony Perkins contributed 16 points in the Hawkeye win. Iowa has now won multiple games in the same conference tournament for the first time in any of Fran McCaffery’s 12 seasons as head coach. The only team standing between the Hawkeyes and their first Big Ten Tournament Championship Game since 2006 is the Hoosiers, whose fans have packed the home-town Gainbridge Fieldhouse during their first two games in the tournament.

“There’s going to be a lot of red in there,” Iowa’s Connor McCaffery said. “It’s going to be a road game. But it’ll be exciting.”

Iowa, currently projected as a No. 5 seed by ESPN, was going to make the NCAA Tournament regardless of how it performed this week in Indianapolis.

However, Indiana entered the conference tournament as a bubble team.

After losing their final two games of the regular season, the Hoosiers have helped their case with upset wins over Michigan and Illinois. The Hawkeyes stand as the latest favorite standing in their way. Iowa has won 10 of its last 12 games, and took the only meeting between the two teams in the regular season, 83-74, in January at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

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“You have to be really impressed with the job that Indiana’s done here in particular,” Fran McCaffery said. “You know, they lost some games down the stretch, but I don’t think in any way it was indicative of the caliber of team. They showed up here, I think, determined … And now they think they can win it, this one. You have to be respectful of the way that they’ve continued to compete. Obviously, it will be a great atmosphere with them being here.”

The semifinal matchup between No. 5 Iowa and No. 9 Indiana marks the second-lowest seeded matchup in Big Ten Tournament semifinal history and the lowest since 2008.

Iowa was picked to finish ninth in the Big Ten by ESPN ahead of the season. Indiana was picked to finish seventh.

On Saturday, the two red-hot teams will play with a trip to the conference title game on the line.

“We know what we’re capable of, and we’ve had these goals and aspirations early on in the season, and we knew that we were going to be a good team and we knew that we had to be playing our best basketball at this point in the season,” Keegan Murray said. “I feel like we’re doing that. Indiana’s a really good team, they’re really well coached, and they’re playing really well right now.”

Iowa will face Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Saturday at approximately noon (CT) at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The game will be televised nationally on CBS.