Kentucky is headlining another tournament, while Iowa is disturbingly familiar with its fate.
The Wildcats, last season’s national champion, will have to settle for trying to win the National Invitation Tournament. The Hawkeyes will not be in the NCAA tournament for the seventh straight year.
Iowa received a No. 3 seed in the National Invitational Tournament and will host Indiana State on Wednesday.
“It’s definitely a good thing for us to be able to continue playing. That’s always an honor and a blessing,” Iowa junior Devyn Marble said. “We’re looking forward to it and making sure we stay focused and take care of business. We’re going to come in with the same focus and mindset we’d have if they were a Big Ten team.”
The Hawkeyes (21-12) lost to Michigan State 59-56 on Friday night. 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.
Indiana State (18-14) finished 9-9 in the Missouri Valley but lost three of its last four.
The Hawkeyes, who won 10 and lost 10 in the nation’s toughest league, the Big Ten, likely saw their NCAA tournament hopes dashed when they lost to Michigan State 59-56 in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.
Kentucky wasn’t the only SEC team snubbed by the NCAA tournament selection committee.
Alabama and Tennessee also missed the cut, marking the first time in 39 years that the Wildcats, Crimson Tide and Volunteers were left out of the same NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats (21-11), who struggled to live up to lofty preseason expectations, went 4-4 in their final eight games without freshman star Nerlens Noel, who had his season ended early with a knee injury that required surgery.
Kentucky, which played in the last two Final Fours under fourth-year coach John Calipari, becomes the 20th defending national champion to be left out of the NCAA tournament field and first since North Carolina in 2010.