Bracketology: Iowa Basketball On Outside Looking In

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Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

A look at Iowa basketball’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament

After a 22-point loss to Purdue to start conference play, it looked like Iowa basketball got their season back on track. They beat a good Michigan team, fought hard in a double-overtime loss to Nebraska and then beat Rutgers.

Last week, Iowa had an up-and-down week. It was a huge week for Iowa with games against Purdue and Northwestern. The Hawkeyes have a long way to go before even being considered a bubble team, but two wins over Tournament caliber teams could have gone a long ways.

In impressive fashion, the Hawkeyes upset the 17th ranked Boilermakers 83-78. No, it didn’t mean Iowa was on the bubble suddenly, however it’s their second ranked win of the season and shows resilience for a young team who lost to the same team 10 days prior.

Although, the week concluded with their worst loss of the season. The Hawkeyes traveled to Evanston, Illinois, to take on Northwestern. The Wildcats are a bubble team, however they made a strong case for why they should be in by beating Iowa by 35 points, 89-54.

Losses are bad for an Iowa team that needs to win as many games as possible, but blowout losses, even to potential Tournament teams, are a lot worse. Iowa didn’t show any fight and allowed a 25-4 run in the last 10 minutes to end the game.

That said, here’s a look at where Iowa stands when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.

Good Wins: #25 Iowa State, #17 Purdue

Bad Losses: Omaha (98-89), Northwestern (89-54)

Record (Conference): 11-8 (3-3)

Vs Ranked (RPI top-100): 2-2 (3-5)

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Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Verdict

Right now, it’s a no-brainer. Iowa would be on the outside looking in.

While they have two very good wins over ranked teams, the Hawkeyes were also blown out by one of their quality wins.

Also, losing by 35 points to any team doesn’t look good, not to mention their loss to Omaha looming over their heads. While beating Omaha wouldn’t change Iowa’s position right now, it would definitely give them more leverage if they were 12-7 with only one bad loss instead.

The real kicker, though, is that Iowa is just 3-5 against the RPI top-100. Their wins include Iowa State, Purdue and Michigan, while they lost to Virginia, Purdue, Nebraska, Seton Hall and Northwestern. It shows that Iowa is below-average against Tournament caliber teams, especially since these games have been throughout the entire season thus far.

To make matters worse, the Big Ten is having an uncharacteristically bad year, so finishing around .500 in conference play doesn’t look as impressive. At 3-3, Iowa will be kicking themselves later in the year for losing in double-overtime to Nebraska.

iowa basketball

Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

How Iowa Can Get In

It’s simple right now, Iowa needs to win the Big Ten Tournament and receive an automatic bid. The Hawkeyes would need to go on a huge run in the next month to even be in the discussion without a Big Ten Tournament championship.

That said, Iowa has three quality resume building teams in front of them. The Hawkeyes host no. 25 Maryland while they travel to Illinois and host Ohio State the week after. In total, Iowa has nine more quality win opportunities left on their schedule.

If Iowa went 9-3 in their final 12 games, while going 6-3 against quality opponents, they would have a small chance if they performed well in the Big Ten Tournament.

It would put the Hawkeyes at 20-11 heading into the Big Ten Tournament and 12-6 in conference play. In comparison, Iowa went 21-10 and 12-6 in conference play last season and they earned a seven seed in the Tournament.

It’s an uphill battle for Iowa, but it’s not over yet. The Hawkeyes’ young team will have to quickly mature and pull off a couple of upsets, but there is still a chance Iowa is playing in March.

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