The Iowa Hawkeyes and Maryland Terrapins have successfully found their way to New York City, as the two teams square off on Tuesday in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
Iowa has won six of its last seven games heading to the Big Apple. Coach Fran McCaffery's squad downed Indiana State, Stony Brook and Virginia by double- digit margins in its first three rounds of the NIT. The Hawkeyes' last loss was a hard-fought, 59-56 battle with Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament. They have since been very tough in the postseason tourney as they ended the Cavaliers' 19-game home winning streak on Wednesday.
Roy Devyn Marble has been the go-to-guy for Iowa down the stretch. The junior swingman is averaging 25.3 points and 5.3 assists per contest so far during the NIT. He went 8-of-16 from the floor to net 24 points against Virginia's stifling defense. Zach McCabe and Adam Woodbury both tallied 10 points, the latter adding a game-high eight rebounds as well. Sophomore forward Aaron White was limited to six points, but he scored in double figures in the first two rounds, including an 11-point and 13-rebound effort against Indiana State. Iowa has just one scholarship senior on its roster, so its late-season surge is building some optimism for the future.
This will be just the third meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. Maryland won both previous bouts. The winner of this matchup will take on either BYU or Baylor in the championship game.
The Terps rallied behind sophomore center Alex Len to outlast Alabama and pick up a 58-57 win in the quarterfinals. Maryland has been quite impressive as well in recent weeks, with five wins in six games. The only loss during that span was a 3-point setback to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament. Coach Mark Turgeon's team defeated Niagara and Denver easily in its first two NIT games.
Len tallied 15 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks as the second-seeded Terrapins outlasted the top-seeded Crimson Tide. Dez Wells and Jake Layman netted 13 points apiece for Maryland, which overcame 18 turnovers by winning the rebounding battle, 33-27. Len has the attention of NBA scouts due to his size and potential. The sophomore center is netting 12.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per tilt on the year. Wells is leading the squad in scoring with 13.1 ppg. Wells picked up some solid postseason experience last season when he was a member of Xavier's Sweet 16 team. Maryland won the NIT title in 1972.