Mad About You: Joe Lunardi Moves Iowa into NCAA Tournament's Final Spot

Matthew Holst

Yes I love Bracketology But not as much as you, you see But still I love Bracketology Always and forever

Joe Lunardi, I could kiss you right on the mouth:

PACK YOUR BAGS WE'RE GOING TO DAYTON WOOOO LET'S GET MAD AGAIN PLAY THE SONG

I've been writing about Iowa athletics since September 2006, and we started BHGP in 2007. I've been here for the fall and rise and fall of Iowa football, for Alford and Lickliter and McCaffery. I've seen the Hawkeyes on the cover of Sports Illustrated and winning the BCS computers at 9-0. I've seen the Hawkeyes lose to Iowa State by giving up five field goals. I've had wrestling national championships and K-pop bizarreness and Ron Zook for, like, six years.

I've never had this.

I've never had a basketball team even in the conversation for the tournament, let alone in the field, at any point of the season. We planned Marchifornication as a way of passing the time for a year or two until Iowa made the NCAA's. That was 2008, and it's still the time-killer of choice every March when the season abruptly ends at the Big Ten tournament. Iowa filled Carver Hawkeye to the rafters last year for an NIT game. The desperation and hunger for postseason basketball here is unlike anything I've seen.

The Hawkeyes face a murderer's row in the next month, starting with the prohibitive Big Ten favorite Indiana on New Year's Eve. In the following 37 days, Iowa plays seven games against teams ranked in the Kenpom top 16, with four of those seven away from home. This team could very well lose nine of its next ten games (Kenpom has them 2-8 over that stretch) before the more modest part of the schedule kicks in. The challenge isn't going to be running through the Big Ten -- that's not going to happen for anyone -- but keeping a young team motivated and interested and fueled up long enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel, then capitalizing in February and March. And that likely means Iowa won't be in this position again for a while. Maybe February. Maybe next year.

So, for today, let's savor our plucky, upstart Hawkeyes, finally back in the tournament conversation, finally mad again. Vote in the poll below. Don't stop dancing.

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