The Iowa Hawkeyes may have just shown that they learned a valuable lesson. Last season, despite finishing 21-12 and 9-9 in the Big Ten, they were not selected to be in the NCAA Tournament. It wasn’t even really a snub, as nobody expected them to be picked on Selection Sunday.
The reason: a horribly weak non-conference schedule.
Next season’s solution for this problem: entering the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
Iowa’s biggest wins last season in their non-conference schedule were against Iowa State, Northern Iowa and…well that’s it. They went 9-2, but their non-conference strength of schedule ranked at an embarrassing No. 311. Any program that is not a perennial top 25 team should be scheduling big names. Programs like Iowa don’t have enough margin of error, in terms of making the NCAA Tournament, to take the non-conference slate off. If Iowa had played some quality teams, whether they be big names or high quality mid-majors, they likely would have found themselves dancing, instead of making an impressive run in the NIT.
So, this year Iowa has decided they will ditch the Great Alaska Shootout and head to the Bahamas. The difference between the two preseason tournaments is more than just location and the presence of the sun. While the Great Alaska Shootout will tout names like Denver and Indiana State, Iowa will now be taking on the likes of Kansas and Villanova in the Bahamas.
The lack of a strong non-conference schedule kept Iowa out of the Big Dance this past year. By joining the Battle 4 Atlantis, Iowa is saying that they won’t get fooled again.