Iowa played pitifully against Indiana in the first half, and despite that some experts are saying that Iowa should be in the tournament. The Big Ten is the strongest conference in the nation so far this year, but Iowa sits at 18-11 and 7-9 in the Big Ten with only one game to go in conference.
Yes, Iowa has lost a lot of close games, but winning those games are a quality of a tournament team something that Iowa probably isn’t. CBS Sports’ Doug Gottlieb said he thinks Iowa will be the eighth team in the tournament from the Big Ten on Sunday just a week before Selection Sunday. He’s primarily basing that off the toughness that Iowa has had to endure this season.
Iowa’s quality wins so far are Iowa State, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. With only seven wins in conference though, two each coming against cellar teams in Northwestern and Penn State, Iowa doesn’t have a strong enough case yet.
The situation for them to make the tournament starts tomorrow with a must-win game against Illinois, who is pretty much guaranteed a tournament spot due to their spectacular wins this season. After that Iowa will head to Chicago for the Big Ten tournament where they’ll have to win Thursday and Friday if they want a chance to make the tournament, a win on Saturday would help seeding but probably isn’t necessary to get in. Getting that far is going to be a long shot.
As it stands currently Iowa is the 8th seed in the Big Ten and would play Purdue in the first round and have a tough match up against Indiana in the second round. Surprisingly enough before last week’s game against Indiana, their head coach Tom Crean said he thought Iowa was in the NCAA tournament as far as he was concerned.
My verdict is that Iowa doesn’t make it in, they’ll probably win against Illinois and Purdue, but winning that game against Indiana will be next to impossible, especially if Iowa has to do without Mike Gesell as Coach Fran McCaffery hinted at in the weekly conference teleconference.
The Big Ten probably isn’t going to send eight teams this year, Iowa will be a good team in the NIT but just miss out on the tournament. Carver-Hawkeye Arena will get to host one last game in 2013 and send out their lone senior.