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IOWA MBB: Potential Big Dance Opponents

Stats and thoughts on some potential Hawkeye first round opponents.

NCAA Basketball Tournament Selection Committee Meets In Manhattan
The people in this room are responsible for choosing Iowa’s first round opponent. Who will it be?
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

With just the Big Ten Championship tourney left on their schedule, Iowa is looking like a six seed after their losses to close out the regular season. Under that assumption, let’s look at a dozen teams that have been projected by some of the bracketologists out there who could fall into a eleven seed and match-up against Iowa in the first round of the NCAA Championships.

All stats and information are as of games through Sunday, May 5th. The information in brackets following the team name is the record and the team’s ranking in the Pomeroy rankings. By way of comparison, Iowa is 20-11 with a 23 ranking from Pomeroy.

Cincinnati (20-10, 45): The Bearcats tied for first in the American Athletic Conference regular season. While Cincinnati has 20 wins, only two of them are Quadrant 1 wins which will push them down come seeding time. Obviously the most common opponent for them is when they actually played and lost to Iowa 77-70 right before Christmas in the State Farm Legends game. Cincinnati was able to limit Luka Garza to just 12 points, his second lowest output of the season. The likelihood of these two being put together in a first round rematch is fairly low.

Cincinnati Bearcats

East Tennessee State (29-4, 56): The Buccaneers were the regular season leaders in the Southern Conference and play Wofford on Monday night for the automatic NCAA bid. They have 29 victories but three of them have come against non-Division I opponents and they only have three total Quad 1 or 2 victories. The question is whether it is their fault that their conference opponents aren’t very good? Their best loss was a 12 point defeat at the hands of #1 Kansas in mid-November. ETSU could easily get an 11 seed or maybe be one of the 11 seeds that has to play one of the “first-four” game and could meet a 6 seed Iowa.

East Tennessee State Buccaneers

LSU (21-10, 36): The Tigers tied for second in the SEC this season. They have four Quadrant 1 but looking at their results it basically looks like they’ve beaten the teams they should beat but haven’t scored any upsets which, if they were playing against Iowa, they would be the underdog. LSU is a deep team as they have five players that average at least 11 points per game so shutting down one player isn’t an option.

LSU Tigers

Oklahoma (19-12, 35): The Sooners barely defeated TCU on the road on Saturday to get back to .500 in conference play. While the record isn’t stellar, they have a strong RPI. A deep conference run though could move them up into potential range. Oklahoma does have five Quad 1 wins including sweeping West Virginia. Two losses each to Kansas and Baylor will hurt your conference ranking in a hurry. They throttled Iowa State at home but then lost handily on the road to the Cyclones as well so Oklahoma seems to have road issues like most teams in the country.

Oklahoma Sooners

Rhode Island (21-9, 66): The Rams finished third in the Atlantic 10 Conference regular season and will look to solidify their chance at a tourney bid in the conference tournament. While they have 21 wins, their Pomeroy score is pretty suspect and their NET score of 57 isn’t much better. Rhode Island is another team that has beat who they should but don’t have any signature wins. I don’t expect them to get higher than a twelve seed in the tournament. Fatts Russell is third in the country with 2.9 steals per game for Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Rams

Stanford (20-11, 38): The Cardinal are technically in seventh in the PAC-12 but they were one came out of third. Stanford has five Q1 wins with their best being at home against #13 Oregon. The Ducks had their chance for revenge though when they hosted Stanford on Saturday night and took advantage defeating the Cardinal 80-67. The main problem for Stanford is that they have some bad losses on their resume including against California (Net 149, RPI 135).

Stanford Cardinal

Texas (19-12, 61): Texas tied for third in the Big 12 and has five Q1 victories to their name this year. Unfortunately, none of those wins are BIG wins like Kansas or Baylor so Texas is languishing down in the ratings a bit. If they received a ten or eleven seed it would simply be due to the name factor. A nearly 30 point loss at Iowa State should eliminate any team as a tournament candidate.

Texas Longhorns

UNI (25-6, 48): The top seed in the Missouri Valley had a bad loss in the quarterfinals of their tourney to Drake on Friday. Their resume only has one Q1 win but that was a road victory over Colorado. The Panthers seem like a good match-up for the committee to pit against Iowa to try to increase interest in a first round game. Unfortunately, UNI is eighth in the country in three-point percentage at .389 so that could definitely be an issue against Iowa.

Northern Iowa Panthers

USC (22-9, 54): The Trojans probably don’t want to face Iowa again after the bowl whipping just a couple months ago. However, USC has 22 wins and tied for third in the PAC-12. They also have five Q1 wins with the best of those being over an unranked Arizona squad and some name recognition. Onyeka Okongwu is ranked tenth in the county in player efficiency at 31.3 (Garza is second at 34.4). Okongwu also is ninth in the country with 2.7 blocks per game.

USC Trojans

Utah State (26-8, 41): The Aggies finished in a tie for second in the Mountain West Conference behind San Diego State but then defeated them on Saturday night to win the conference tourney and earn an automatic bid. While Utah State only has three Q1 victories, one was against San Diego State and the other two were both over SEC foes, Florida and LSU. As a team, the Aggies are second in the country in rebounding margin this year so if they played Iowa, that might be a focal point. Sam Merrill is second in the country in win shares at 7.1.

Utah State Aggies

Wichita State (22-8, 42): The Shockers finished fourth in the American Athletic Conference regular season. They only have two Q1 wins and their strength of schedule is a fairly average 72 so they may not make it past a 12 seed if they do get invited to the dance. Their best win has been over a mediocre UConn team.

Wichita State Shockers

Xavier (19-12, 43): The Musketeers are only 8-10 in the Big East Conference. What makes their resume interesting is that their strength of schedule is a robust 5th in the nation. They missed out on a chance to lock down a bid when they lost a road game on Saturday against Butler 61-66. Three Q1 wins with the best being on the road against Seton Hall probably won’t be enough, but winning a couple games in the conference tourney should get them a seed that could face Iowa. Tyrique Jones is third in the country with 21 double-doubles.

Xavier Musketeers