BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – Iowa and Auburn will meet for the first time on Thursday, with the winner moving on to the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.
Iowa (19-13) earned the No. 8 seed in the Midwest Region in the 2023 NCAA Tournament and will square-off against ninth-seeded Auburn (20-12) on Thursday at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama (5:50 p.m. CT) on TNT. Top-seeded Houston (31-3) will play No. 16 seed Northern Kentucky (22-12) at approximately 8:20 p.m. CT, with the two winners meetng on Saturday (time TBD).
Auburn (20-12) lost to Arkansas 76-73 in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Auburn posted a 10-8 conference record to place seventh during the regular season.
Auburn is making its 12th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament, its fourth berth in the last five tournaments. Auburn is 18-11 in the NCAA Tournament, including 6-3 under head coach Bruce Pearl. Pearl led the Tigers to the 2019 Final Four.
Auburn has dropped a number of close games throughout the season, including losses by three or fewer points to USC, West Virginia, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Arkansas. The Tigers lost by five points to Texas A&M and to Alabama (in OT), the overall top seed in the tournament.
The Tigers hold a 3-10 record in Quad 1 games, and a 6-1 record in Quad 2, with just one addi”onal setback outside of the top two quadrants.
Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl was a former assistant coach at Iowa. Pearl was an assistant coach under Tom Davis from 1986-92.
Iowa is one of 10 teams in the country to make the last four NCAA Tournaments, and one of only three Big Ten teams to accomplish the feat (Purdue, Michigan State).
Iowa has placed fifth place or better in the Big Ten standings seven of the last nine years.
Iowa and Michigan State had 13 wins over teams in the top two quadrants, second most in the Big Ten (Purdue, 19).
Fran McCaffery has guided seven players to first team All-Big Ten status eight of the last 10 seasons, including Kris Murray (unanimous by the media) this year.
Iowa had six players recognized with postseason Big Ten honors: Kris Murray (first team), Filip Rebraca (third team), Tony Perkins (honorable mention), Connor McCaffery (honorable mention), Payton Sandfort (Sixth Man of the Year), and Patrick McCaffery (sportsmanship).
Iowa finished the regular season tied for fithh place in the Big Ten standings, its fifth consecutive upper division Big Ten finish and 10th over the last 11 seasons. Iowa is the only Big Ten team to have first-division finishes each of the past five seasons.