The Iowa Hawkeyes have had a pretty limited week in terms of game time given the postponement of Thursday’s matchup with Michigan State. Since the last time we took a look at the brackets, Iowa picked up another win over a ranked opponent as the Hawkeyes handled #16 Minnesota 86-71 last Sunday.
They’ll get their next shot at adding to their resume on this Sunday as they travel to Northwestern for what will be a quadrant 1 matchup (more on that to come). Here’s your weekly look at how things stand heading into the weekend.
As of Friday, January 15th, the Hawkeyes continue to be in good shape, though not a lot has changed from last week. Iowa held steady in the AP poll this week despite the big win over Minnesota. They did, however, get a bit of a bump in several of the advanced rankings.
Iowa moved up a spot in KenPom this week to #3 nationally, aided by continued improvement in their defensive efficiency while the offense remains as good as its been all year. The Hawkeyes also moved up two spots in the NET ranks this week.
But the biggest boost came in the RPI. While we can debate the usefulness of this age-old metric (there are clearly better tools), Iowa jumped a whopping 27 spots to 23rd this week as they get into the meat of the Big Ten schedule, as do their opponents.
Here’s your weekly look at how things stand in the various rankings.
For those unfamiliar, the nitty gritty report is one of the components utilized by the selection committee come Selection Sunday. It provides an in depth breakdown of a team’s resume according to the NCAA’s NET rankings. Here’s a look at Iowa’s nitty gritty report as presented by WarrenNolan.com.
There’s not much change this week vs. a week ago. Iowa added a Q2 win over Minnesota that should age well this season. On the Q1 side, all Iowa’s losses remain safely in that quadrant and despite a bit of a slide for Rutgers, their wins aren’t likely to slide to Q2 either.
On the other end of the spectrum, Iowa State continues to struggle making it a bit less likely they climb out of Q4 territory without some upsets down the stretch. North Carolina Central, however, is showing some promise.
As noted a week ago, the Hawkeyes saw a bit of a climb in the consensus bracket on Bracket Matrix during the week. After entering as a 3 seed, they jumped to a 2 a week ago today. That’s where they stand through the most recent iterations that were largely released on Tuesday.
That’s where ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Hawkeyes in his bracket this week.
That’s not a change from last week, though the rest of the quadrant continues to be fluid. Iowa is now in the same “region” as new #1 seed Michigan, which should tell you what this could look like next Tuesday if Iowa gets a win Sunday and Michigan stumbles.
One thing to watch as we enter the weekend is the movement of both Texas and Michigan. The Longhorns, who have been sitting on the 1 line, fell to Texas Tech at home earlier this week and dropped a seed line accordingly this morning. Michigan jumps up a line to be the final 1 seed along with Gonzaga, Baylor and Villanova in the most recent brackets today.
As noted, a Michigan loss likely puts them right back on the 2 line and then the question becomes whether it’s Iowa or Texas making the leap up.
The biggest rooting interest every week, but this week in particular with just the one matchup, is of course the Hawkeyes. Iowa has a chance to add another Q1 win to their resume, which would put them over the .500 mark in that category. Virtually every road game from here on out will be a Q1 game and Iowa needs as many of them as they can get both for their quest to win a Big Ten title but also for seeding.
Elsewhere, Hawkeyes fans should continue rooting for losses out of Baylor, Villanova and all the top Big Ten teams. The big one here is obviously Michigan. The Wolverines have a schedule about as soft as my infant ‘s diaper until mid-February, but they get a rare road game this weekend at Minnesota. Michigan has looked dominant in their three games against ranked opponents this season (after struggling quite a bit in the non-conference despite pulling out wins), but all have been at home. A Gopher win on Saturday would move Iowa into first place in the Big Ten and potentially onto the 1 line.
It’s probably is worth continuing to root for more Texas losses as well given they may still wind up ahead of Iowa in the pecking order to jump back on the 1 line.
The other teams to root for are those four quadrant 2 teams. Minnesota we mentioned because they face off with Michigan, but like Purdue, Nothwestern and North Carolina, they could also potentially jump to a quadrant 1 win if they can get a few wins in the right places while avoiding bad losses. Purdue, in particular, is right on the cusp of making that jump.
And finally, Iowa fans can go ahead and ditch the effort to root for Iowa State. The Cyclones are looking less and less capable of jumping out of quadrant 4. North Carolina Central, on the other hand, is showing a bit more promise. Show them some love.
To pair with rooting interests, we’ll continue to have updates on games to watch each Friday through the end of the season that will highlight upcoming games featuring some of the above teams, as well as others.