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Your Weekend Guide to Hawkeye Hoops Rooting Interests

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With the Hawkeyes now back on the NCAA Tournament bubble, we take a look at who Iowa fans whould be watching and rooting against this weekend.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Wisconsin
Fran McCaffery looks on at Wisconsin. Here's who you should be looking at this weekend.
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a roller coaster of a season, as many expected with this young group of Hawkeyes. At the outset, there was abundant optimism, but for the most part tempered expectations. The general consensus was this group would be a bubble team on the high end and may not make the NIT on the low end.

Following a thrilling win over Wisconsin on Thursday night, the Hawkeyes are sitting at 17-13 overall and 9-8 in conference play, which puts them in 8th place in the Big Ten and firmly back on the bubble. And never has it felt so good. The resume isn’t great. The Hawkeyes are currently ranked 70th in Kenpom, 63rd in Sagarin and have an RPI of 76 (up roughly 40 spots from a week or so ago). But they do have 5 wins over teams in the top-50 (to go with 8 losses), including a win over Purdue and road wins at Maryland and Wisconsin.

Here’s a look at the official resume the NCAA selection committee will review.

image via @johnbohnenkamp

It sure would be nice to have that Minnesota game marked as a W. But I digress. Aside from the lack of road wins, the non-conference slate is the major drawback to Iowa’s resume. At the beginning of the year, it was thought to be pretty tough. And it was. Tough enough the young Hawkeyes came away with 5 losses. Perhaps more troubling was that two of them (Memphis and UNO) came to teams who are now outside the RPI top-100. And the 5 games against teams outside the RPI top 200 are killing Iowa’s SOS and RPI. The teams weren’t just outside the top 200, they were way outside it and three are outside the top 320. Woof.

But in a year such as this, almost as important as Iowa’s resume is the resume of those teams also sitting on the bubble. The definition of “on the bubble” is also up for debate. A week ago, Iowa wasn’t on it. Now they are. Lunardi still has Clemson “on it,” They are 15-14. I don’t care what your SOS looks like, you aren’t making the tourney with 16 wins unless you take home a conference tournament title.

Like Clemson, Vanderbilt is lacking in the wins department. They’re currently sitting at 16-14 and in Lunardi’s first 4 out. Barring a nice run down the stretch, they have no shot.

Here’s a look at all the teams currently sitting ahead of the Hawkeyes according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and who they will take on this weekend. Plan your rooting interests accordingly.

Teams to Watch This Weekend

Lunardi Bucket Team Record Opponent Date Time TV
Lunardi Bucket Team Record Opponent Date Time TV
Last 4 Byes Syracuse 17-13 Georgia Tech 3/4 3:00 PM ACCN
Last 4 Byes Seton Hall 19-10 @ Butler 3/4 1:30 PM NA
Last 4 Byes Providence 19-11 @ St. John's 3/4 11:00 AM NA
Last 4 Byes Marquette 18-11 Creighton 3/4 1:30 PM NA
Last 4 In Xavier 18-12 @ DePaul 3/4 1:00 PM NA
Last 4 In Cal 19-10 @ Colorado 3/4 1:00 PM PAC12
Last 4 In USC 22-8 Washington 3/4 5:30 PM PAC12
Last 4 In Wake Forest 17-12 @ Virginia Tech 3/4 3:30 PM ACCN
First 4 Out Vanderbilt 16-14 Florida 3/4 1:00 PM ESPN
First 4 Out Georgia Tech 17-13 @ Syracuse 3/4 3:00 PM ACCN
First 4 Out Rhode Island 20-9 Davidson 3/4 5:00 PM NA
First 4 Out Kansas State 18-12 Texas Tech 3/4 12:00 PM ESPNN
Next 4 Out Georgia 18-12 @ Arkansas 3/4 1:00 PM ESPN2
Next 4 Out Illinois 18-12 Rutgers 3/4 11:00 AM ESPNU
Next 4 Out Houston 20-9 ECU 3/5 3:00 PM CBSSN
Next 4 Out Clemson 15-14 Boston College 3/4 3:00 PM ACCN

Notably, Syracuse and Georgia Tech play each other on Saturday. With a win, Syracuse is probably in and Tech out. If Tech wins, both teams are still likely on the bubble. Marquette and Seton Hall are both playing games they should lose. Doing so could be a big help for Iowa. But a Seton Hall loss will hurt Iowa’s SOS a touch given the early season loss to the Pirates.

Vanderbilt will have an opportunity against a ranked Florida team Saturday, but a loss will certainly drop them from consideration. Wake has a date with Virginia Tech, a team currently dubbed as an 8-seed. A win would certainly help Wake’s case, but a loss could bump Iowa up. Lunardi has the Demon Deacons as a last 4 in. In the Pac-12, Cal and USC both have matchups they should win, but both are contenders to fall out of the field if their recent trends continue (each has lost 4 of the last 5).

And of course, none of this matters if Iowa can’t win their final home game tomorrow against Penn State and then make a nice run in the Big Ten Tournament next week. It would be perhaps the most Iowa thing ever to lose to Penn State or the first round of the BTT after putting together such a nice run and getting Hawkeye Nation’s collective hopes up. Even if there is an inevitable collapse, it’s been a hell of a ride and it’s great to be excited about hoops in March for yet another year under Fran.