RE-RE-REMATCH Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE
The Big Ten regular season is over and while the league ended with a triumvirate of champions (and Ohio State is definitely the Caesar of that group), it also ended with Iowa tied with Northwestern for 7th place. Northwestern earned the #7 seed by virtue of their season sweep of Iowa (sigh), meaning Iowa drops to the #8 seed. They'll meet Illinois in the 8/9 game at 10:30am CT on BTN on Thursday. Finally, the Big Ten standings have done what Jim Delany's cruel will has otherwise prevented: Iowa and Illinois playing one another.
Iowa hasn't played Illinois in football since the Bush administration -- the first Bush administration (okay, not really) (but it feels that way) -- and they've played Illinois just six times in basketball over the last four years; the only other teams they've played that infrequently are Penn State and Wisconsin. It will also be the first time in the history of the Big Ten Tournament that Iowa has played Illinois. 15 years and 26 games later, that bizarre streak will finally be over. It will also be one final chance for Matt Gatens to check Illinois off his to-do list: Illinois and Ohio State are the only Big Ten teams Iowa has never beaten during Gatens' tenure*. Based on the game against Illinois earlier this season, scoring a win on Thursday might not be too likely. Per Hlas, though, #8 seeds are money in the Big Ten Tournament: they're11-3 against #9 seeds in the history of the event. So this game is totally in the bag, you guys.
* In case you're curious... Iowa's record against B1G opponents during Matt Gatens' career:
MICHIGAN ST: 1-7
OHIO STATE: 0-7
PENN STATE: 3-3