With just over one month to go until THIS. IS. MARCH, BHGP will provide a weekly rundown of potential bracket scenarios, straight from the mouths of nation's preeminent bracketologists. Note: If you attempt to claim "bracketologist" as a form of employment the IRS will audit you immediately. Don't do it.
CURRENT STATUS: ONE SEED.
Joe Lunardi, ESPN: 1 seed, Des Moines, vs. Bucknell/Hampton
Jerry Palm, CBS: 1 seed, Des Moines, vs. Bucknell/Hampton
Chris Dobbertean, SBNation: 1 seed, Des Moines, vs. Bucknell/Hampton
Dave Ommen, NBC Sports: 1 seed, Des Moines, vs. Bucknell/Wagner
Bracket Matrix: 1 seed.
It's a great day to be a Hawkeye. The who's who of sporting publications and websites unanimously have Iowa as the number one seed in the Midwest region, opening their Tournament play in Des Moines at Wells Fargo Arena. Iowa's success makes pieces like this easy because quite simply: the one seed is theirs to lose.
This is assuming that Iowa wins the Big Ten and plays well in the Big Ten Tournament. RPI-wise, Iowa's toughest remaining games are a home and away against #54 Indiana and at #56 Michigan. Wisconsin and Ohio State aren't slouches but the same courtesy cannot be extended to Minnesota (238 RPI LOL) and Penn State. If Iowa can take care of business on the road the rest of the schedule should be manageable.
With all due respect to Indiana, it's Maryland that poses the biggest conference threat to Iowa's seeding. They've matched Iowa's ten conference wins, have the tiebreaker, and names like Bowie State, Minnesota and Illinois remain on their schedule. Fortunately for Iowa, so do road trips to Purdue and Indiana. It's the matchup in West Lafayette that poses the biggest problem for the Terrapins but should they win, the margin of error for Iowa is relatively slim.
Iowa's projected opponent is the winner of the First Four game, which most bracketologists believe will either be Bucknell, Hampton or Wagner. Bucknell, currently sitting at 13-10 in the Patriot League, has a three-game conference lead over five different teams. Hampton, a name that Iowa State fans should be familiar with, is tied with South Carolina State at 9-2 in the MEAC. SC State actually already beat the Pirates so it's surprising that Hampton is still projected to be the conference champion. Finally, Wagner is sitting at 8-4 in the Northeast.
WHAT TO WATCH ON TUESDAY:
Iowa's two best wins of the season were at Michigan State and at Purdue. It just so happens that both teams play each other tonight in West Lafayette at 6:00 PM CT on ESPN. Michigan State is the better of the two, so a win by the Spartans would be most beneficial for the Hawkeyes. Then again, they also beat Purdue so the Boilermakers winning wouldn't hurt either.
Another game of note is West Virginia at Kansas at 6:00 PM CT on ESPN2. The Jayhawks are a projected as a soft one/hard two but could start working their way up if they beat the 10th ranked team in the nation. They'll need to ride that momentum into the weekend because the Jayhawks won't get any rest, taking on the Sooners in Norman this Saturday. If Kansas can win those two games, they'll be back in the driver's seat of the Big 12 with Oklahoma right beside them.