By Justin VanLaere
When I released my Way-Too-Early Bubble Watch towards the end of last month, I’d anticipated revisiting it again towards the middle of February. I’m still about a week or so away from releasing my first edition of my 2013 Bubble Watch involving teams to pull for and teams you really need to win their conference tournament, etc… that said, I want to take time to look a little bit closer at Iowa’s current NCAA Tournament resume. It’s dull, but it’s so very intriguing.
RPI (StatSheet): 92
QUALITY WINS: Iowa State, Wisconsin
BAD LOSSES: Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech loss was on the road to <160 KenPom team.
Both wins were at home to <50 KenPom teams.
So Iowa hasn’t won a big game on the road, but they also haven’t lost a bad game at home. This neither helps nor hurts their resume or many of their rankings. Let’s assume Iowa wins the games they are supposed to win the rest of the way out. What did the committee do last year in regards to Power 6 teams with comparable resumes? Let’s take a look…
Pomeroy Rankings are used in the Quality Wins/Bad Losses
QWin < 50; BLoss > 100.
2012 Alabama Crimson Tide
SEC (4th best conf), 30 Pomeroy, 34 RPI, 30 Sagarin
20-10 (9-7) reg season, 1-1 in conf tourney
Quality Wins – Wichita State (9), Purdue (22)
Bad Losses – South Carolina (155)
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2012 Connecticut Huskies
Big East (3rd best conf), 37 Pomeroy, 32 RPI, 39 Sagarin
18-12 (8-10) reg season, 2-1 in conf tourney
Quality Wins – Florida State (24), Notre Dame (39)
Bad Losses – Rutgers (119), Central Florida (107)
2012 NC State Wolfpack
ACC (5th best conf), 35 Pomeroy, 47 RPI, 35 Sagarin
20-11 (9-7) reg season, 2-1 in conf tourney
Quality Wins – Texas (31), Miami – twice (47), Virginia (33)
Bad Losses – Georgia Tech (178)
2012 Purdue Boilermakers
BigTen (#1 conf), 22 Pomeroy, 44 RPI, 23 Sagarin
20-11 (10-8) current reg season, 1-1 in conf tourney
Quality Wins- Temple (46), Miami (47), Minnesota (49), Michigan (29)
Bad Losses – Butler (110), Penn State (127),
Again, compare those NCAA At-Large teams with Iowa’s current resume:
2013 Iowa Hawkeyes
BigTen (#1 conf), 34 Pomeroy, 92 RPI, 39 Sagarin
15-9 (4-7) current reg season / 20-11 (9-9) projected reg season, 1-1 in conf tourney
Quality Wins- ISU (32), Wisconsin (12)
Bad Losses – Virginia Tech (158)
Iowa’s RPI, in my opinion, will drop into the 50’s should they end up with 5 or 6 wins before the Big Ten Tournament.
Iowa’s resume (assuming they take care of business) looks much like some of the other Power 6 teams in the past that have received at-large bids without many quality wins, or without a marquee win. I think Alabama is a really good look at a team with a very similar resume, except they played in a much weaker conference. Recall, UCONN got in last year with a sub-.500 conference record.
Breaking Down Iowa’s Resume at this Point in the Season (FEB 11)
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They beat the teams they were supposed to beat. They lost to the teams they were expected to lose to. They had a very weak non-conference slate, yet they did pick up wins over two Top 100 Pomeroy teams within that schedule. They play in the best conference in the nation and have been in every single game in conference play sans a road game at Michigan (forgivable). While Iowa hasn’t done anything to help its NCAA Tourney chances, it certainly hasn’t done anything to hurt it. At the end of the season, the committee is likely going to see a very boring Iowa Hawkeye tournament resume. Iowa will be close to, if not exceed 20 wins on the year. Although 20 wins is no longer the magic number, getting 9 or 10 wins in the best conference in the land just might be. Without a true marquee win to hang its hat on, Iowa will need to go (at minimum) 5-2 and then win at least 1 game in the Big Ten Tournament to get a seat on that Bubble. 6-1 the rest of the way could put them in due to the current state of fellow Bubble Teams – however if they lose that first round game to a 10 or 11 seed, they are back on the outside of that soft Bubble. Overall, I think it would be hard for the committee to pass up on a 21-10 (10-8) Iowa team regardless of any big time quality wins, though. They will also likely have a L10 of 7-3 which will boost their resume.
Iowa has to take care of business, though. They need to focus on closing out games, and continue to win the games they are expected to win. The Hawkeyes will likely be favored in at least 5 of their final 7 games. They will be battling Minnesota and Illinois for the cherished bottom-half of the upper tier in the B1G – 6th place. Getting the 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament allows them to avoid playing the #1 or #2 seed in the second round of the tournament. It also gets them likely Nebraska or Northwestern in the opening round.
Before the season started, I was adamant that this team would need to get at least 9 conf wins + 1 in the Big Ten Tournament. I believe this is still the case looking at this team with just 7 games left in the regular season. As of right now, Iowa is a 1 or 2 seed in the NIT, but there are still four weeks of basketball left for the Hawkeyes to make some sort of statement to the committee. And, again, let’s not forget the fact that the hardest part of Iowa’s schedule is behind them, so the wins should come. Not to be forgotten is the fact that they should get some considerations for playing in the best conference in the nation. All stuff to think about when looking at Iowa’s NCAA chances.
Look for a more thorough breakdown of the Bubble in the next 7-10 days here on Hawkeyenation. It will become a regular feature until Selection Sunday assuming Iowa is still in the hunt for an NCAA at-large bid.
– Justin VanLaere
Follow me on Twitter @storminspank