The last time we checked in on Iowa's odds of winning the NCAA Tournament, the bandwagon was filling up. That'll happen when you get off to a good start in Big Ten play, beat Ohio State in Columbus and throttle Michigan. Oh, and when all kinds of advanced metrics love you something fierce. Iowa's odds of winning the Big Dance -- an event we haven't even received an invite to since 2006, mind you -- fell all the way to 2006.
So what happens after losing three out of four games and displaying a defense that looks worryingly porous? Well, let's just say the bandwagon isn't quite as full as it used to be and the odds are a bit higher.
On the bright side, if you're still a believer in Iowa hoops putting together a killer run in a few weeks, a bet now will put more money in your wallet. A $10 bet on the Hawkeyes would net you $500 now if they're cutting down the nets a month from now (you know, along with the unforgettable memory of IOWA WINNING A BASKETBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HOLY CRAP).
Despite looking like a tire fire themselves for much of February, Michigan State remains the Big Ten team with the best odds of ending the league's decade-plus drought in the NCAA Tournament -- they're 12/1 to win the Dance, while Michigan and Wisconsin (the B1G teams with the best records of late) are 22/1 and 20/1, respectively. Ohio State also checks in with slightly better odds than Iowa (40/1), as do our friends in Ames (also 40/1). After Iowa, though, there's a sizeable drop-off in odds among Big Ten teams; no one else shows up until Indiana and Minnesota, both wild long shots at 500/1.
Meanwhile, in other Vegas-related news, the betting lines themselves may not love Iowa quite as much (which has more to do with Vegas setting lines to entice the general public than anything else), but the Vegas oddsmakers who set those lines still have a lot of love for the Hawkeyes and continue to rank them very highly in their power rankings.
"Iowa stinks!" Yes, I've heard this discourse from everyone over the last 3 weeks since unveiling the first edition of the bracket. How surprised were people when Iowa was listed as a 1 seed when we published Vegas Bracketology 1.0? Clay Travis, yes that guy, picked up the phone from his hotel room on vacation to make sure I hadn't compromised the integrity of my article (or lost my mind) with a major slip-up. Clearly this team doesn't pass the eye test right now and quite frankly they've shown the inability to close tight games but the metrics still say they're very much a top ten caliber team. Why do I trust these numbers so much? They were the exact same statistics predicting Syracuse's downfall long before the media realized scoring 55 points a night doesn't make you elite. They're the same numbers that told us St Louis, ranked #10 in the AP at the time, was being over valued given their power profile and back to back losses later (including one as 14 pt favorites against Duquesne) the process is validated. Oddsmakers don't have the luxury of over reacting to one result; knee jerk decisions cost sportsbooks heaps of cash. You hear all the time in sports teams are what their record says they are but if you truly believe that, you've never tried to make a buck by beating the pointspread.
#TheNumbersNeverLie? Let's hope so, for Iowa's sake. The fact that advanced metrics -- these rankings, the KenPom rankings, Tito's THOR rankings, etc. -- continue to love Iowa quite a bit is gratifying (it sure as hell beats being a mediocre or plain lousy team), but gaudy stats aren't what we'll be remembering 5, 10, or 15 years from now -- big wins and tournament runs will. So let's get on that, eh, Iowa?