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Iowa History Daily: March 3 - Hawkeyes Soar to Big 10 Title

Iowa History Daily: On March 3, 1945, the Iowa Hawkeyes beat Illinois to claim the school’s first ever outright men’s basketball conference title. The Hawks finished the season 17-1, but declined a bid to the NCAA tournament. Later, the Premo-Porretta Power Poll named Iowa the national champions for the 1944-1945 season.



Coached by Pops Harrison, the Hawkeyes entered the season fresh-off finishing as runner-up in the Big 10 during 1943-1944. Featuring Muscatine’s Murray Wier and Diagonal’s Dick Ives, the Hawks stormed out to a 10-0 start before losing at Illinois 43-42 during late January. The set-back proved temporary, and Iowa soon started rolling toward a final game showdown with Illinois in early March. 



14,400 fans packed into the Iowa Field House as the 17-1 Hawkeyes hosted the Illini. With Ohio State already sitting at two losses, Iowa could capture the Big 10 crown with a victory. Ives dropped in 14 points to lead the Hawkeyes to a 43-37 victory, and Iowa managed to claim the outright title for the first time in 44 attempts.



Despite winning the Big 10, the team voted not to participate in the 8-team NCAA tournament. Star guard Herb Wilkinson, a dental student, as well as chemistry major co-captain Ned Postels, cited an unwillingness to miss important coursework as the reason for their voting against the team’s participation. Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) went on to win the NCAA tournament, but later statistical analysis suggested Iowa may have captured the crown had the team participated. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar



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