Iowa entered the NCAA Tournament on an epic heater, but its season came to an abrupt end Thursday in a 67-63 loss to No. 12 seed Richmond during the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The No. 5 seed Hawkeyes emerged as a trendy pick to make noise in this season's Big Dance after their Big Ten Tournament title, but they ran into a Spiders' squad that was just as hot.
After winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament last week to reach its first NCAA Tournament since 2011, Richmond advances to play No. 4 seed Providence, which defeated South Dakota State 66-57. Richmond was led by 24 points from senior guard Jacob Gilyard and got two clutch buckets from senior forward Nathan Cayo in the last two minutes.
The Hawkeyes closed within 65-63 on a Keegan Murray dunk with 4.8 seconds left, but Gilyard iced it from there with a pair of free throws for the Spiders.
It isn't Richmond's first success as a double-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Spiders won two games as a No. 12 seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament and also won games as a No. 14 seed and No. 15 seed in 1991 and 1998, respectively.
Iowa looked like a fringe NCAA Tournament team as January came to an end with the Hawkeyes owning a 14-7 (4-6 Big Ten) record. But they turned things around with 12 victories in their last 14 games to enter the Big Dance as dark horse contender. But after getting eliminated as a No. 2 seed in last year's second round, the Hawkeyes will have to wait at least another season to reach their first Sweet 16 since 1999.
Kings of the No. 12 vs. 5 upset
After Richmond's victory vs. Iowa there have been 52 wins by the No. 12 seed over the No. 5 seed in 145 first-round games. The Spiders have three of those victories, the most by a No. 12 breaking a tie with Oregon, Tulsa, DePaul and Western Kentucky who had two wins.
|1984||vs. (5) Auburn||W 72-71|
|2011||vs. (5) Vanderbilt||W, 69-66|
|2022||vs. (5) Iowa||W, 67-63|
Richmond ranks fifth among NCAA Tournament teams in KenPom.com's "experience" metric, and it's easy to see why. The Spiders started two 24-year-olds on Thursday in Cayo and fellow front court player Grant Golden. Gilyard is 23, Andre Gustavson is 22 and The baby of the starting lineup is Tyler Burton, a junior who is also 22.
Off the bench, Nick Sherod is 24 and Matt Grace is 23. In total, eight of the nine players used by coach Chris Mooney on Thursday are in at least their third season with the program. Four are are either fifth or sixth-year players.
Richmond underachieved during the regular season, finishing sixth in the league standings after being picked to finish second. The Spiders started just 3-4 and then limped to a 1-3 beginning in A-10 play. They eventually turned things around and finished 10-8 in the conference but were still long shots to win the conference tournament. Ultimately, after defeating Rhode Island in a first round game last Thursday, Richmond knocked off VCU, Dayton and Davidson on consecutive days after posting a combined 0-4 record against those three schools during the regular season.
Spiders have history
It's the first Big Dance for Richmond's current players, but the program has a history of making noise in the NCAA Tournament. The Spiders beat Vanderbilt 69-66 in 2011 as a No. 12 seed and reached the Sweet 16 by beating No. 13 seed Morehead State 65-48 before bowing out against No. 1 seed Kansas in the Sweet 16.
In total, Richmond's eight NCAA Tournament victories as a double-digit seed are more than any other program in the event's history. Only once in 10 NCAA Tournament appearances have the Spiders been a single-digit seed, and that was in 2010 when they lost in the first round as a No. 7 seed against Saint Mary's