DUNK YOU VERY MUCh - USA TODAY Sports
The Big Ten Tournament bracket is set -- let the fun begin.
We actually knew yesterday that Iowa was going to be the #6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament next weekend, but with the final Big Ten regular season games in the books (miss u 2012-13 Big Ten hoops regular season: you were amazing), we now have the full bracket set.
By virtue of their 9-9 finish in conference play, Iowa ended the season by themselves in 6th place, naturally earning the #6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. They'll play Northwestern, who plummeted to the #11 seed thanks to a season-ending 8-game losing streak. If Iowa beats Northwestern, they'll play the #3 seed, Michigan State. Based on regular season results, Iowa could scarcely have asked for a better draw in the first two rounds. Iowa swept the season series with Northwestern in emphatic fashion, notching a 70-50 win in Evanston and following that up with a 71-57 win in Iowa City last month. And of the Indiana/Michigan/Michigan State/Ohio State quartet, Sparty was the team that Iowa came closest to knocking off in the regular season, losing 62-59 in a game they played without Roy Devyn Marble (out with an ankle injury). Now Iowa will get a second crack at the Spartans, this time with a healthy RDM.
From a beatability standpoint, perhaps Wisconsin might have been a more preferable option -- Iowa beat them in Iowa City, after all, and was one ridiculous Traevon Jackson three-pointer away from beating them in Madison for the season sweep. But the potential reward that would come with a win over Michigan State outweighs the (slightly) greater risk involved in playing them; what Iowa's resume needs more than anything is a big win or two. Beating 10th-ranked Michigan State would mean a lot more for Iowa's cause than beating an unranked Wisconsin team (again).
Iowa's first round game against Northwestern will be at approximately 8:00 pm CT on Thursday, with television coverage from ESPN2. If Iowa makes it to the quarterfinals, their game with Michigan State would also be at approximately 8:00 pm CT on Friday, with television coverage from BTN. That's good news for people with day jobs (unless you were looking forward to skipping out of work to watch some hoopyball, that is). Much more coverage to come this week.