We've got five days to work through Round 2, and the decisions aren't going to be as easy. Once again, here are the one-on-one rules:
- Shoot for first possession
- Alternating possessions
- Play to 15, must win by 2
- 3s are worth 3 points
Tyler Smith def. Seth Gorney 15-1 (95-5)
Luka Garza def. Jon Beutjer 15-0 (99.4-0.6) (I will find you and go Sam Aiello on you)
Luke Recker def. Ryan Kriener 15-5 (84-16)
GAME ONE: No. 3 Greg Brunner vs. No. 6 Tony Freeman
Nothing sums up the Todd Lickliter Experience quite like the most memorable Tony Freeman moment. With just over a minute left in the second half of a January 2008 home game against No. 6 Michigan State, Iowa led by two points with the ball. Freeman came off a ball screen at the top of the arc -- it was always a ball screen at the top of the arc -- and knocked down a deep three to extend Iowa's lead to five. It was enough to guarantee the biggest victory of Lickliter's tenure, as Iowa won 43-36.
FORTY-THREE THIRTY-SIX. A BASKETBALL GAME ENDED AT FORTY-THREE THIRTY-SIX.
As for Brunner, it's really hard to say. The most memorable moment of his senior year is probably the program's most shocking loss of all time. He scored more than 25 points in four games of his career; Iowa lost all four. I suppose we can go back to the third game of the 2005-06 season, a time when we were still pretty cynical about the future of the program. After two pushover wins, Iowa was facing No. 6 Kentucky at the Guardians Classic in Kansas City. Brunner dropped 17 and 12 on the Wildcats, and converted a crucial three-point play with four minutes left that put Iowa ahead for good. The Hawks shocked Kentucky 59-56, and set the template for that season: Clutch defense and Greg Brunner.
GAME TWO: No. 1 Adam Haluska vs. No. 9 C.J. Fredrick
There are probably better Haluska games than this -- he scored more points the following game against Minnesota, fer God's sake -- but I will never forget the last Iowa-Indiana game of Alford's tenure. Iowa's NCAA tournament hopes were dead in November, and Haluska's superhuman scoring hadn't been enough to resurrect them, but Indiana always brought out the best in a Steve Alford-coached team. And so, in the last Indiana game that Alford would coach at Iowa, Adam Haluska killed and presented the Hoosiers to Alford like a dog with a quarry. He hit back-to-back threes with about 15 minutes to go to put Iowa ahead for good, then dunked one on the break to bring CHA to noise levels not seen for years. When Haluska made the final two free throws to cement an 81-75 win, he'd scored 33 points on 9/17 from the field and 10/11 at the line. He hugged Alford, basked in the adoration of the crowd, and created something memorable in an otherwise forgettable campaign.
Fredrick hasn't had the time to build a legacy yet -- he hasn't really even had a year, given the shortened season -- but his 5/5 three-point performance against Cal Poly was certainly his coming-out party.
Not only was Fredrick perfect from three, but he added five assists and picked up a Kenpom Man of the Match award, his first of two last year. For a team that felt like it needed another perimeter presence, that game was the first sign that it might have one.
GAME THREE: No. 4 Jeff Horner vs. No. 5 Mike Gesell
This game is maybe the most competitive of the second round. It's like the Spiderman-Pointing-At-Himself meme come to life.
Horner dropping 27 on Texas in Maui is tempting here, but the Jeff Horner Game is probably from the quarterfinal of the 2006 Big Ten Tournament. Horner went off on Minnesota early, making a three and alley ooping to Doug Thomas to give Iowa an 8-point first-half lead. But Minnesota crawled back, and took the lead with 10 minutes to play. Horner got fouled, made two free throws, forced a turnover and dropped in a three, and Iowa never looked back.
He finished with 26 points, including 6/9 from three (nice), six assists and five steals, and Iowa would go on to win the tournament title.
There really is only one choice for the Mike Gesell Game: The last game of 2015, with No. 1 Michigan State at Iowa.
The highlight doesn't do it justice. Gesell was 7/10 from the field, 11/13 at the line, and eviscerated the Spartans' defense all night. He didn't even attempt a three-point shot. He didn't need to. The lane was his. Iowa beat the No. 1 team in the country on a night where its best player, Jarrod Uthoff, scored just 10 and committed 8 turnovers, mostly because Gesell was a gosh darn nightmare.