Bracketology Update: January 8

Bubble talk.

Iowa basketball is generating realistic postseason bubble talk for the first time in seven years, so you're damn right we're not going to let this go yet. So where do the Hawkeyes rank as we check in with the bracketologists today?

ESPN (Joe Lunardi): First Four Out (link)

If it was a 72-team field, Iowa would probably still be in Lunardi's projected NCAA bracket. Alas, the field is not quite that big (yet), so Iowa finds itself on the outside looking in. This is actually exactly where Iowa sat after Lunardi's last update (December 11), so clearly the losses to Indiana and Michigan last week didn't really damage Iowa's standing. This really shouldn't be terribly shocking, either -- those games represented big opportunities for Iowa (a win in either almost certainly would have put them into the projected field), but losing the games didn't really cost Iowa anything. They weren't expected to win those games and they didn't win those games. So it goes.

Lunardi has six Big Ten teams projected as a 5-seed or better, in case you needed yet another reminder that this conference is stacked -- at least at the top of the league. Iowa has some familiar company in the "First Four Out" bubble, too -- our noisy neighbors to the west are sitting right there with us. Another neighbor, this time from Badger country, is currently occupying one of the "Last Four In" spots in Lunardi's bracket projection, too. Wisconsin certainly seems like a team that will be vying with Iowa for those last few spots in the NCAA Tournament, which makes Iowa's two games with them this season (January 19: at CHA, February 6: at Kohl Center) vitally important.

Blogging the Bracket (Chris Dobbertean): Next Four Out (link)

SBN's bracketologist has Iowa projected in the next bubble beyond the "First Four Out" in his first bracket projection of the season. Iowa State sits in the "Last Four In" bubble, while Wisconsin sits ahead of Iowa in the "Last Four Out" bubble. Again: these are two of the teams Iowa figures to be competing with for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Head-to-head results aren't definitive... but they sure don't hurt.

CBS (Jerry Palm): Last Four In (link)

Jerry Palm still has Iowa as a 12-seed playing BYU in one of the "First Four" play-in games in Dayton... but he also hasn't updated his projections since December 27. I'm guessing Iowa could be on the outside looking in when he does update his projections.

College Sports Madness (USA Today?): 10-seed (link)

These projections might be my favorite projections of any I've seen so far -- not just because they have Iowa as a higher seed than anyone else, but because they have them in a 7/10 matchup with... New Mexico! Hello, storylines. Now that would be a fun game to see. These projections were updated January 7, so they are accounting for Iowa's losses to Indiana and Michigan. Iowa State is nowhere to be found in this bracket, while Wisconsin checks in as an 11-seed.

Bracketville: First Five Teams Out (link)

These projections were also updated January 7, so they should be taking into account Iowa's losses to Michigan and Indiana. Iowa State joins Iowa in the "First Five Teams Out" section, while Wisconsin is one of the "Last Five Teams In" and is in one of the play-in games in Dayton.

The Hoops Report: Last Four In (link)

This projection has Iowa as a 12-seed, playing Illinois State in a play-in game in Dayton. Alas, they were also last updated on December 29, before Iowa's recent two-game losing skid. Iowa will probably be outside the bubble when this projection is updated. Iowa State checks in as a "First Four Out" team and Wisconsin slots in as a 10-seed.

The next few games should be important for Iowa's bubble aspirations. They may get a pass for losing to Michigan and Indiana, but Michigan State (at home) and Northwestern are more beatable opponents, so Iowa could (and should) get docked if they fail to win those games. (Not to mention the fact that starting 1-3 or 0-4 in conference play is not a great way to get an NCAA tournament bid.)

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