A look at Iowa's NCAA resume
With just over a month until Selection Sunday, college basketball teams are heading into the stretch run of the regular season trying to enhance their NCAA Tournament resume.
Last year, Iowa was playing out the string of a lost season.
This year, the Hawkeyes are in the thick of the discussion for a pretty good seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Hawkeyes are now 19-5 on the season and 8-5 in conference play with seven conference games remaining.
First, let’s set the table of where Iowa stands in the various ratings that may play a role in the selection process. If you are just tuning into college hoops in February, there’s been one major change. The outdated RPI has been removed as a major tool of the NCAA Tournament selection committee and it has been replaced by the NET, which it appears other better evaluation tools, like those offered by Ken Pomeroy at KenPom.com.
Here’s Iowa’s ranking as of Wednesday morning at some of the noted ratings sites:
Old RPI: 30th
That’s a pretty good consensus on where Iowa stands, somewhere in the upper 20’s. If you base seeding the Hawkeyes only on those numbers, then at this moment they would probably be a 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The good news is the selection committee doesn’t operate on numbers alone. They look at the entire body of work. Your resume matters in the seeding process.
Last year the selection committee went to a quadrant system for wins and losses. Basically, some wins matter more than others and some losses are more significant than others. It’s based on where your opponent is rated in the NET and where the game is played.
The breakdown will be as follows: Quadrant 1: Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75 Quadrant 2: Home 31-75; Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135 Quadrant 3: Home 76-160; Neutral 101-200; Away 136-240 Quadrant 4: Home 161-plus; Neutral 201-plus; Away 241-plus
Here’s Iowa’s resume on the quadrant front as of Wednesday morning on WarrenNolan.com.
That's a pretty solid body of work with a 5-5 record in Quad 1 games, including three Quad 1 road wins. Iowa is 5-0 in Quad 2 games and 3-0 in Quad 3 games, along with 6 Quad 4 wins. Basically what sticks out is Iowa has a solid number of wins and just as important, zero bad losses to date.
Now, what about the remaining games on Iowa’s schedule? Can they improve their resume?
Yes, the opportunity is there to improve it, especially with more road victories.
@Rutgers (NET – 122) QUAD 2
Maryland (NET -22) QUAD 1
Indiana (NET – 48) QUAD 2
@Ohio State (NET – 36) QUAD 1
Rutgers (NET – 122) QUAD 3
@Wisconsin (NET – 15) QUAD 1
@Nebraska (NET – 40) QUAD 1
So, Iowa has four more Quad 1 win opportunities, two in the Quad 2 category, and one Quad 3 game. Then the Big Ten Tournament will provide even more opportunities, depending on if the Hawkeyes can make a little bit of a run.
Most of the bracket experts have Iowa anywhere from a four to a six seed in their projections right now.
Jerry Palm at CBSSports.com has the Hawkeyes as a four seed playing in the Midwest regional with the games being played in San Jose.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Hawkeyes as a six seed in his latest bracket. He has Iowa playing in the West Regional with their first game in Salt Lake City.
A great site to monitor in the next month is brackematrix.com, which takes all the work of all the various bracket experts and at the end of the year, rates them based on accuracy, so fans can see which experts have done the best over the course of several years.
Currently, bracket matrix has Iowa as a six seed, knocking on the door of being a five seed.
By the way, based on the Big Ten standings as of Wednesday morning, Iowa is now just two games out of the top spot in the conference after Michigan and Purdue lost on Tuesday evening. With five teams ahead of them in the standings, the Hawkeyes would have to run the table and get some help to climb to the top, which isn’t all that realistic.
What is realistic is Iowa’s path to getting to a four seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
Why is that important?
Because that would mean that the Hawkeyes wouldn’t have to play a game at the United Center in Chicago until Friday afternoon. If you are seeded five or lower, then you are playing on Wednesday and/or Thursday. Iowa is pretty clearly out of the mix for a Wednesday game this year, which is good, but they have work to do to get to starting on Friday.
The best path to make that happen would be to beat Maryland in Iowa City next Tuesday evening. It’s the only meeting between the two schools in the regular season, so that would provide a tiebreaker edge against the Terps, who are currently one game ahead of Iowa in the standings in the loss column. Wisconsin is also tied with Iowa in the loss column, so if Iowa could win in Madison and split the season series, that could help. Easier said than done, but two years ago Iowa won at the Kohl Center.
If you like playing around with the projected Big Ten Tournament bracket, here’s a great site to bookmark.