Leistikow: Has Iowa done enough to be a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament?
INDIANAPOLIS — Iowa won its 25th game of the college basketball season Saturday. Maybe you heard about it. The Hawkeyes’ heart-stopping, thrill ride of an 80-77 win against Indiana in the Big Ten Conference Tournament semifinals sets up a championship-game matchup against Purdue … on Selection Sunday.
Given when the game is played (at 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS) and when the Selection Show airs (5 p.m. CT, CBS), there is not enough time to make major bracket revisions based on the outcome. So, for the most part, we should assume that the Hawkeyes’ bed is largely made.
Let’s take a look at the metrics and some final projections as of Sunday morning:
- NCAA NET: No. 14
- Ken Pomeroy: No. 13
- Jeff Sagarin: No. 14
- ESPN BPI: No. 14
- ESPN projection: No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 12 South Dakota State in Portland (Midwest Region)
- CBS Sports projection: No. 6 Iowa vs. No. 11 Loyola-Chicago in San Diego (West Region)
- USA TODAY Sports projection: No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 12 South Dakota State in Portland (West Region)
- Bracketville projection: No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 12 Texas A&M or Wyoming in Buffalo (South Region)
According to Bracket Matrix, which collects 125 bracket projections and spits out the consensus seedings, Iowa is listed as the 20th overall team and the last No. 5 seed. However, not all of those projections were updated first-thing Sunday.
I wrote before the Big Ten Tournament that Iowa probably needed to win its first two games here to feel good about securing a top-six seed. There’s little to no question that the Hawkeyes have done that work. After Saturday’s win against Indiana, USA TODAY’s Shelby Mast for the first time elevated Iowa from the No. 6 line to the No. 5 line. He’s got Iowa as the 19th overall seed, a bump from 22nd before the Rutgers games. Early losses by Texas (21-11, NET of 17) and LSU (22-11, NET of 18) in their conference tournaments have seemingly helped Iowa gain a spot on the seed line.
I’ve been asked this a lot: If Iowa beats Purdue — a projected No. 2 or 3 seed — on Sunday, could it vault all the way to the No. 4 seed line?
That would really surprise me. If you look at Mast’s projections, Iowa would need to jump three teams in the overall seed line in Providence (the last No. 4), Connecticut and Houston (which is playing in the American Athletic title vs. Memphis). Perhaps there’s a chance that the committee could flip-flop the 4 and 5 in a region (say, Providence) should Iowa beat Purdue. But don’t count on it. The bracket cake is likely already baked.
Has Iowa done enough to secure a No. 5? With a win, absolutely. With a loss, it's not a sure thing. We don't know how the selection committee will grade the Hawkeyes' extremely impressive metrics (which warrant a No. 4 seed) vs. the limited number of Quadrant 1 wins (three) in the NCAA NET compared to their peers.
But we won’t have to wait long to find out, as the bracket will be unfurled within 30 minutes of the Big Ten title game’s conclusion.
If you’re a Hawkeye fan, the best-case scenario — whether a 4, 5 or 6 — is to be played in the Midwest Region. That’s because the Sweet 16 site is the United Center in Chicago. If Iowa is to make its first Sweet 16 in 23 years, Chicago would be a festive site for an excited Iowa fan base.
At this point, it looks likely at that Kansas will be the No. 1 seed in the Midwest. And though the bracket from ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Iowa playing in Portland as the No. 5 seed, he has them in the Midwest, too. That would be a nice reward for a job well done this week in downtown Indianapolis.
Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow has covered sports for 27 years with The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY and Iowa City Press-Citizen. Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.