Dayton, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - First-round action of the NCAA Tournament continues in Dayton with a matchup featuring the Big Ten Conference's Iowa Hawkeyes taking on the SEC's Tennessee Volunteers in a Midwest Region battle to determine which team will advance to the round of 64.
The winner moves on to the second round where the sixth-seeded UMass Minutemen will be waiting.
Iowa had a successful season up until the end. The Hawkeyes spent a chunk of the year ranked in the nation's Top 25, but fell from grace after losing six of their last seven games. That includes a 67-62 loss to Northwestern in the conference tournament.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery is expected to have an extremely busy and emotional day, as he will be at a hospital in Iowa City early on as his 13-year old son Patrick undergoes surgery to remove a thyroid tumor, and then he hopes to hop on a place and be in Dayton in time for tonight's contest.
Tennessee started to fuel up toward the end of the year, winning five games in a row before being ousted from the SEC Tournament by eventual champion Florida, 56-49. The Volunteers enter this matchup with key wins on the season over teams such as Virginia, Xavier and Ole Miss.
Iowa leads the short all-time series against Tennessee, 2-1. All three games were played at neutral locations, with the last meeting taking place back in 2000's Rainbow Classic, which Tennessee won, 80-68.
The loss for Iowa against Northwestern in the Big Ten Conference Tournament was almost as embarrassing as it was shocking. The Wildcats struggled all season long, and the defeat for the Hawkeyes really epitomized Iowa's play at the end of its regular season. The two teams went into the half knotted at 31 apiece, but a dismal 25.7 shooting percentage in the second frame collapsed Iowa. Roy Devyn Marble scored 25 points to pace the Hawkeyes, adding four assists to his resume. Jarrod Uthoff chipped in 17 points with nine rebounds off the bench. Iowa shot 32.3 percent as a team.
Marble had a stellar season for the Hawkeyes, leading the team in scoring at 17.3 ppg and adding a team-best 59 steals on the year. Aaron White checks in at second on the squad in scoring with a 13 ppg mark on 59.2 percent shooting from the floor. White is also the team's leading rebounder with 6.7 rpg, while Gabriel Olaseni leads the Hawkeyes with 43 blocked shots. As a team, Iowa is scoring an impressive 82 ppg, and is holding its opponents to 70.1 ppg through 32 games played.
Holding Florida to just 56 points in the SEC Tournament isn't a bad thing, even if the Volunteers were taken down. Tennessee showed it can hang tough with the top team in the nation, and will try to prove it can do the same entering this tournament. Tennessee led the Gators, 35-28, at the end of the first half, but could only hit 25 percent of its shot attempts in the second frame. Jordan McRae netted 15 points to pace the Vols, while Jarnell Stokes added 13 with seven rebounds, and Jeronne Maymon chipped in 10 points with nine boards. The Vols ended up shooting 41.3 percent in the game.
Like Iowa, Tennessee has a real weapon atop the team in the scoring department in McRae, who is averaging 18.6 ppg and has hit 148 3-point tries this season. His 83 assists is a team best, and his 22 steals is tied for third on the squad. Stokes comes in at 14.7 ppg, and is averaging a double-double in his 33 games played with 10.3 rpg. Maymon rounds out the double-digit scorers for the Vols at 10.1 ppg with an impressive 8.2 rpg average. Tennessee is scoring 71.3 ppg and giving up just 61.1 ppg.