Four Big Ten teams, seeded 11th through 14th, play on the first day of the Big Ten Tournament.
This year, thanks to Jim Delaney’s desire to play the tournament in Madison Square Garden, that first day will take place on February 28th. As of this writing, Iowa is tied in the Big Ten standings with Minnesota at 3-11, which is 11th place. Wisconsin sits in 10th at 4-10, with Maryland and Northwestern tied for 8th in the win column with six wins, each.
I believe the highest seed Iowa can realistically reach is 10th, so they need to at least tie Wisconsin, and also either stay ahead of Minnesota, or if Iowa beats them again, tie Minnesota. Here are the paths to these outcomes
WISCONSIN”S REMAINING GAMES
02/15/18 – PURDUE
02/19/18 – MINNESOTA
02/22/18 – at Northwestern
02/25/18 – MICHIGAN STATE
I think the Badgers are going to finish 1-3 against that slate, getting them to 5-13 on the season. They are already guaranteed to finish out of the Top Four in the Big Ten standings for the first time since before Bo Ryan was their head coach. They will also need to win the Big Ten tournament to make the NCAA’s, something they haven’t missed since 1998.
MINNESOTA’S REMAINING GAMES
02/13/18 – MICHIGAN STATE
02/19/18 – at Wisconsin
02/21/18 – IOWA
02/25/18 – at Purdue
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Really, 2-2 is the best I can see the Gophers finishing here…but I lean more towards 1-3. Amir Coffey has still not returned to action since his injury, missing the last five games for the Gophers, all losses and the Gophers are riding a seven-game losing streak. More on Minnesota in a minute.
IOWA’S REMAINING GAMES
02/14/18 – at Michigan
02/17/18 – INDIANA
02/21/18 – at Minnesota
02/25/18 – NORTHWESTERN
I think Iowa is capable of going 3-1. But that is the best case scenario, and given the roster challenges this year (lack of guard depth), predicting the best case is not wise. But as we have hashed out, Iowa needs to go at least 2-2, and if they do go 2-2, Minnesota either needs to go 1-3, or one of Iowa’s two wins needs to be against Minnesota.
Let’s say Minnesota beats Wisconsin and the Badgers lose out, and Iowa goes 2-2 but loses to Minnesota. The Gophers would win the head to head with Iowa by virtue of having a better record against Penn State. Iowa would get the 11 seed and play on opening day.
If that happened and Wisconsin also beat Northwestern, making a three-team tie for 10th between Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Gophers would once again get the 10th seed by virtue of the best record against Penn State.
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So basically, Iowa needs to finish ahead of Minnesota in the standings or if they are tied with them, they need to have beaten them again this month.
Here is my prediction:
I’d rather see Iowa finish as high as they can…and I’d also like to see them play at least one game in March, something that has happened every year since the 1930’s.