When the selection committee unveils the NCAA Tournament bracket, people tend to look for upsets. They try to find that Cinderella. Maybe not a dark horse that will advance to the Final Four, but a dark horse that can at least get to the Round of 32 and see what happens.
For many people, this year’s dark horse was No. 10 Davidson, which was a trendy upset pick entering play Friday.
This was not lost on No. 7 Iowa.
“We watch TV, we watch sports and we see people picking against us,” Iowa senior forward Aaron White said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I’m not going to lie. That motivated me. Not that I needed any more motivation, but I was even more excited to play this game seeing that a bunch of people picked against us.”
White responded with a game-high 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting from the floor, leading Iowa to a runaway 83-52 win over Davidson. The Hawkeyes (22-11, 12-6) will face No. 2 Gonzaga (33-2, 17-1) in the Round of 32 this Sunday at 7:10 p.m. ET.
“Great team win for us,” White said. “I’m happy for our program and excited to keep advancing and keep playing.”
Three Hawkeyes finished in double figures, including Mike Gesell and Peter Jok, who scored 15 and 12 points, respectively, while Adam Woodbury and Jarrod Uthoff scored eight apiece. Iowa shot 50.7 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from three-point range, while limiting Davidson to 33.3 percent and 21.4 percent, respectively.
Iowa’s size and length was too much for Davidson, which shot just 6-of-28 from beyond the arc and was out-rebounded 46-30.
“We definitely had to use our size to our advantage this game,” the 6-9 White said. “Going back and getting offensive rebounds, dominating the glass, getting stops and running out in transition – that’s our game. We’ve got good size. We got good versatility across our frontline. We were able to use that tonight.”
Iowa’s win was yet another for the Big Ten, which went 5-2 in the Round of 64. Iowa, Ohio State, Maryland, Michigan State and Wisconsin all advanced, while Purdue and Indiana lost to higher seeds by a combined six points.
“I think we don’t get the credit we deserve,” White said. “I think arguably we’re the best conference in the country. Night in and night out in the Big Ten is an absolute war, top to bottom. Wisconsin is one of the best teams in the country. Like you said, Michigan State is arguably playing some of the best basketball around. So I’m happy for those teams. I’m always supporting the Big Tn when it comes to tournament time, and I’m happy with how well we’re playing. I’m excited for Sunday.”
Gonzaga advanced after beating No. 15 North Dakota State, 86-76, on Friday, as Kyle Wiltjer and Kevin Pangos combined for 41 points.
The Zags have won 26 of their last 27 games.