IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa coach Tom Davis says he’s happy his Hawkeyes are playing in the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, but he’s a bit puzzled about being a No. 8 seed in the West region.
The Hawkeyes will face No. 9 seed Virginia on Thursday in an opening-round game at Salt Lake City.
“From a coaching point of view, I can’t ever remember getting a draw and liking it,” Davis said at a news conference Sunday. “That’s going to be a good, tough opponent. Coming out of a `power conference’ says a lot. We know they’re a good ball club.”
The Cavaliers are 18-12 overall with a 7-9 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference. They are one of six ACC teams to make the tournament.
The Hawkeyes finished the regular season at 21-9 overall and 12-6 in the Big Ten, tying them with Purdue for second place.
Two teams that finished behind Iowa in the league standings are seeded higher in the tournament, including Wisconsin earning a No. 7 seed in the East and Illinois a No. 6 seed in the Southeast.
“I think it’s pretty clear that your conference records are meaning less and less. The Big Ten regular season is not as meaningful as it once was,” Davis said.
This is the 10th NCCA tournament for Davis, who has never lost an opening-round game.
Getting past the first round this year would likely mean a second-round match up against top seed and defending NCAA champion Kentucky, which opens Thursday against No. 16-seed Montana.
Senior point guard Andre Woolridge said the Hawkeyes will not look past the Cavaliers.
“I think we’ll be prepared for whoever we step up against. But right now our main focus is getting ready for Virginia,” Woolridge said.
Davis said Virginia is a threat from the outside. The Cavaliers shot 36.5 percent from 3-point range this year. They’re led by Courtney Alexander, who is averaging 15.1 points per game.
Virginia has lost six of its last 10, but has posted some big victories. The Cavaliers beat North Carolina, which is the top seed in the East, and South Carolina, the No. 2 seed in the East.