With under 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: FOURISH SEED.
Joe Lunardi, ESPN: 4 seed, Des Moines, vs. Akron
Jerry Palm, CBS: 5 seed, Des Moines, vs. Valparaiso
Chris Dobbertean, SBNation: 3 seed, ? , vs. UAB (welp)
Dave Ommen, NBC Sports: 4 seed, Des Moines, vs. Hofstra
Bracket Matrix: 4 seed.
Iowa's top seeding gets more precarious with each passing week. After dropping their third straight game and losing four out of the last five, the Hawkeyes are projected anywhere from a third seed to a fifth seed, according to the more popular publications. Across the blogosphere, there are some bracketologists who have the Hawkeyes as low as a seven. Considering their performances as of late, you can't blame anyone for not trusting this Iowa team.
The Hawkeyes can take a big step in earning back trust tonight if they can beat Big Ten Champion Indiana. Yes, you read that correctly. Tom Crean won another Big Ten Championship. What is even life?
There are three scenarios as to how Iowa basketball can finish out the season. First, they can play like the team we saw in January. This team can beat almost any team in the nation and win big games. This team will beat Indiana, Michigan and make a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament. If this team shows up Iowa can waltz into the NCAA Tournament as high as a two seed.
The second scenario is that Iowa can rebound but not quite to January level. They'll split the last two games and win a couple of games in the Big Ten Tournament. In this case, Iowa would likely be a four seed.
The third scenario is the meltdown. Iowa loses out and gets bounced on the first day of the Big Ten Tournament. If this happened Iowa could legitimately fall to anywhere from a six to an eight seed.
What's most realistic? It's tough to believe that even with all of their struggles as of late that Iowa is going to lose on senior night. Then again, when you hit up Hawkeye Sports and you see their preview titled "Senior Night is Just Another Game" you can't help but get frustrated. Why does Iowa insist on promoting their athletic programs as businesslike and emotionless? IT'S SENIOR NIGHT. IT'S NOT JUST ANOTHER GAME. THOSE GUYS AREN'T COMING BACK AS PLAYERS.
Anyway. If Iowa beats Indiana tonight they should also be able to get past a Michigan team that has lost three of their last four and will be without Caris LeVert (who's done for the season). But then there's the Big Ten Tournament. Fran McCaffery teams are 2-5 in the Big Ten Tournament and have only advanced to the second round twice. They were seeded in the second round last season when they lost to Penn State. There aren't a lot of reasons to be optimistic about Iowa's Big Ten Tournament chances with how they've been playing as of late.
Then again, if they're able to win out, Iowa will get the double bye for the first time under McCaffery. That's a plus.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten, you've got Michigan State pushing hard for a one seed. Yes, the same Michigan State team that was dead and buried after losing at home to Nebraska in January. The Spartans have now won eight of their last nine and close out at Rutgers and home against Ohio State, so they should finish 26-5 (13-5). Tom Izzo is a damn wizard.
You probably hadn't heard or haven't been paying attention to what's going on the ACC, but Maryland has dropped three of their last four games, including an embarrassing loss to Minnesota. The Terps finish with Illinois and Indiana so who knows what is going to happen there.
If Iowa wins out they'll finish 13-5. If Sparty wins out they'll finish 13-5. If Indiana loses to Iowa but beats Maryland they'll finish 14-4, so we're cheering for the Terps. If the Terps win out they'll also finish 13-5 and their win will knock Indiana down to 13-5. Everyone will be 13-5. Party.
WHAT TO WATCH ON TUESDAY:
Iowa, obviously. They tip off at 8:00 PM CT on ESPN. Dakich is on the call so this should end well.
Prior to the Hawkeyes tipping off you've got Virginia taking on Clemson at 6:00 PM CT on ESPNU and Baylor taking on Oklahoma at 7:00 PM CT on ESPN2. Virginia and Oklahoma are projected as one seeds and Baylor is a predicted six.
WHAT TO WATCH ON WEDNESDAY:
For amusement purposes you should check out Oregon @ UCLA on ESPNU2 at 8:00 PM CT. Bill Walton will probably be on the call and UCLA has lost seven of their last ten games. The clock is ticking on REDACTED. I mean, if they fired Steve Lavin how in the world can they keep He Who Shall Not Be Named?