Let’s lead off with some NCAA tournament chatter from a couple of talking heads on twitter:

Jerry Palm

Seth Davis

Iowa’s RPI was in the high 80’s before their win against Minnesota. They moved into the high 70’s right after the game and we’ll see how they settle out early this week. Do the Hawkeyes have a serious shot to make the NCAA tournament?

I wouldn’t call it ‘serious’ just yet. A shot? Yes but as Jerry Palm said, it’s still in long shot status. Long shot, but the Hawkeyes have the schedule to get closer to the cut line. What is the cut line?

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Here is a list of ‘high’ RPI’s for teams who made the NCAA tournament as at large teams since 2005:

#67 USC (2011)
#64 Marquette (2011)
#63 Stanford (2007)
#63 NC State (2005)

2005 was the last time the RPI had an overhaul of any significance. There have been higher (or worse) RPI’s in the dance prior to that, but go with the post 2005 angle here. Can Iowa get into this range if it wins four of its next five games? Yes it can and it could get into the high 50’s.

This is just my opinion, but I’d wager on it; if Iowa goes 4-1 to end the regular season and wins their first game at the Big Ten tournament, they likely get into the NCAA Tournament. Do that and win their first two in the Big Ten tournament and we’re in lock territory.

How likely is 4-1? Iowa has two games against Nebraska and home games against Purdue and Illinois. None of those teams has a winning record in the Big Ten. Nebraska is 3-10 and the Boilermakers are in the midst of a real dark finish to this year. Illinois is starting to tick back the other way and that game will be a challenge. Iowa also plays at Indiana and I give them next to no chance at a win there.

For now? Just keep winning. The game at Nebraska Thursday night will be a challenge and then Iowa hosts Purdue six days later before their game at Indiana. Lose the game at Nebraska and all of the NCAA talk evaporates.

Now, this week’s Power Rankings:

1. Indiana: Hoosiers travel to take on the Spartans Tuesday. Oladipo tweaked an ankle against Purdue and is ‘day to day’. Both the Spartans and Hoosiers are 11-2 in the league so this is a pretty big game.

2. Michigan State: They begin a brutal stretch; vs #1 in the nation, then at Ohio State and Michigan back to back before hosting Wisconsin.

3. Michigan: Wolverines starting to slide a little bit and beat Penn State at home by just eight points on Sunday.

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4. Wisconsin: As much as I can’t stand their style of play, they’re winning and doing so without their best option at point guard.

5. Ohio State: Scoring less than 50 points in Madison doesn’t make them unique…but it sure was ugly.

6. Illinois: From 2-7 to 7-7? Beat Penn State Thursday and that’s five in a row.

7. Iowa: The Hawkeyes are one win away from being 7-7 themselves

8. Minnesota: They began the year 15-1 and have gone 3-7 since.

9. Purdue: They are 5-8 in the league and still play at Iowa and Wisconsin and host Michigan and Minnesota.

10. Northwestern
11. Nebraska
12. Penn State: I don’t see them avoiding 0-18. They finish at Illinois, v Michigan, at Minnesota, at Northwestern and v Wisconsin