DAYTON, Ohio -- Iowa coach Fran McCaffery will be in and out of Dayton as the Hawkeyes get ready for their first NCAA tournament game in eight years.

He had a flight arranged to Iowa City on Tuesday night so he could be with 13-year-old son Patrick, who is having surgery on Wednesday morning to remove a thyroid tumor. The coaching staff will lead the team through its morning meeting and a light practice while he's away.

McCaffery expects to be back in time for the game against Tennessee (21-12) in the NCAA First Four on Wednesday night.

"Hopefully, I'll be back before the last meeting we have, which is typically right before pregame meal or right after pregame meal, and be ready to coach the game," McCaffery said. "Assuming all goes well."

His players' thoughts go with him.

The Hawkeyes (20-12) have a lot on their minds during their long-awaited return to the tournament. A team that was ranked No. 10 in the AP Top 25 poll two months ago wound up with one of the final at-large bids after dropping six of its last seven games.

They'll face a Tennessee team that has won five of six and is in the tournament for the seventh time in the last nine years. The Volunteers lost to Michigan in their last appearance in 2011.

As they prepare for Tennessee, the Hawkeyes are thinking about a teenager having surgery back home.

"Pat is a guy that is basically at practice with us every day. He's like our little brother," guard Roy Devyn Marble said. "He's in a tough spot, so we're just trying to make this as simple and easy for him as possible."

 

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.