Playing For NIT Championship Is Big Deal For Iowa Hawkeyes

Joe Camporeale – USA TODAY Sports Images

Iowa didn’t get a chance to play in the NCAA tournament this year, but the Hawkeyes have certainly made the most of their postseason opportunity in the NIT.

The Hawkeyes will play for the NIT championship against Baylor tonight, and for a team that was much better than expected in the Big Ten this season, it’s quite an accomplishment.

Iowa advanced to the title game against Baylor by knocking off future Big Ten opponent Maryland, 71-60. The victory on Tuesday gave it 25 on the year, the second-highest win total in program history.

Roy Devyn Marble was a clutch player once again, much the way he has been most of the year. He poured in 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds in addition to leading the Hawkeyes in scoring in four consecutive games.

Marble has been a big-time player in the NIT, averaging just over 24 points per outing in the tournament for Iowa, which has won 11 of its last 14 games.

Eric May wasn’t bad either. He delivered a key 3-pointer that put the Hawkeyes up nine with a little over two minutes remaining and finished with 12 points overall.

Obviously, the Hawkeyes would rather have played in the NCAA tournament, but making a run in the NIT isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The tournament provides valuable experience for the team, and the hope is that the returning players will build on this tournament run and use it to be an even better team next season.

Maybe winning an NIT title isn’t the same as winning an NCAA title, but in the end, being a champion of anything is a huge deal.

Brian Lester is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993.

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