From a pure basketball standpoint, Iowa's game with Tennessee in the NCAA tournament is a matchup of contrasting teams. The Hawkeyes finished the season by losing six of their last seven games. The Volunteers have won five of their last six.
But there's a more important drama going on.
Head coach Fran McCaffery flew to Ohio with his team and had practice Tuesday, but he'll be leaving to be with his family. McCaffery will be back in an Iowa City hospital with his son, 13-year-old Patrick, who will have surgery to remove a thyroid tumor.
Assistant Kirk Speraw will take over some of the coaching duties. McCaffery will return to Iowa City for Patrick's surgery and go back to Ohio to coach the game on Wednesday.
"The other coaches will handle the morning meeting and the shoot-around," said McCaffery. "Hopefully I'll be back for the last meeting we have, which is typically right before pre-game meal or right after pre-game meal and then be ready to coach the game, assuming all goes well."
"This is what we do for a living but it's not who we are," said Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin. "First and foremost he's a father and that's the most important thing. I think it's a tough thing to deal with in a situation like this. You're playing in an NCAA tournament game, your players need you but your family needs you more."
Iowa and Tennessee play at 8 o'clock Wednesday night on Tru-TV. The winner will face Massachusetts on Friday afternoon.
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