With college football officially in the rearview mirror, Iowa Hawkeye fans can fully devote their collegiate attention to basketball for the next several months. While that obviously means tuning in to all of Iowa’s games, it also means being aware of other games going on around the country. This is, after all, an Iowa team with its sights set on winning not just a Big Ten Championship, but also a National Championship.
So, each week until Selection Sunday, we’ll be highlighting games to watch every weekend with a tie in to our Hawkeye rooting interests.
Here’s what to watch in week 12 of the college basketball season.
The Iowa Hawkeyes enter the weekend on a winning note for the first time in a while but will have their hands full as they look to complete the season sweep of Michigan State at the Breslin Center on Saturday afternoon. That’s a 1:30pm tip you can catch on FOX. But that’s not the only game worth watching this weekend as the countdown to March Madness means Hawkeye fans have some serious rooting interests down the home stretch.
This week has a pretty limited Friday night lineup. There’s just one game featuring a top-25 team and it just so happens it’s a Big Ten game. Nebraska is hosting #6 Illinois in a game where Iowa fans should be rooting against the Illini, but there is zero hope for an upset here. Nebraska is bad and of course Iowa didn’t get their chance to drub Hoiberg and the Huskers earlier this year. Now the conference doesn’t seem interested in rescheduling that particular game after cramming Michigan State down our throats in a five-games-in-eleven-days span. But I digress.
Saturday is, of course, the big day for college hoops. There are a slew of games on deck, including three in the Big Ten. Iowa, of course, is at Michigan State at 1:30 on FOX. That’s preceded by Indiana at #4 Ohio State at 11am on ESPN. We’re on IU there as a win could bump Iowa’s home lost to the Hoosiers up to Q1 and OSU losing obviously helps Iowa in the Big Ten standings.
The last Big Ten matchup of the day features Northwestern at #25 Rutgers. Hawkeye fans recall the last time Iowa beat the Scarlet Knights they proceeded to hit a 5-game losing skid. We need them to avoid that this time around and hang in Q1.
Outside the conference, there are 12 other games featuring at least one ranked team after a pair of good ones have already been postponed (not to go off on a complete tangent, but it sure is convenient that Baylor had their matchups with #1 Gonzaga, #13 Texas, #12 Oklahoma and now vs #7 Texas Tech and a pair of matchups with #14 West Virginia postponed without any plausible way to reschedule).
Here’s a rundown of the most noteworthy for Iowa fans to follow (team to root for bolded):
- #12 Oklahoma at #14 West Virginia - 12pm on ESPN+
- TCU at #13 Texas - 12pm on LHN
- #16 Tennessee at LSU - 1pm on ESPN
- Georgia at #11 Alabama - 2:30pm on SECN
- Arkansas at #10 Missouri - 3:00pm on ESPN2
- #5 Villanova at #19 Creighton - 4:00pm on FOX
- North Carolina at #9 Virginia - 5:00pm on ESPN
Unrelated to the above, but my goodness can the Big 12 get it together and get on some real TV? You have a pair of ranked teams in prime time going on ESPN+ and the Longhorn Network. Get it together.
With such a heavy Saturday, Sunday is pretty light on college hoops. There are only a pair of top-25 games, but there are three games in the Big Ten. Two of those will feature unranked teams as Nebraska travels to Penn State at 2pm on BTN and Minnesota heads to Maryland at 6pm on FS1. As noted in our weekly bracketology breakdown, Iowa is rooting for Penn State and Minnesota for a bit here to help bolster the Hawkeyes’ resume.
The other game on Sunday to keep an eye on is #3 Michigan at #21 Wisconsin. That’s a 12pm tip on CBS. Depending on your persuasion, this is a win-win or lose-lose. A Michigan loss puts Iowa a tad closer to the top in the Big Ten standings and could potentially be the start of an unwinding that could help the Hawkeyes climb on the seed line.
But a Wisconsin win would keep them ahead of Iowa in the Big Ten standings, where the Badgers are already a half game up on the Hawkeyes, and could put them ahead of Iowa on the seed line. Currently, Joe Lunardi has both teams as a 4 seed, but a win over the #3 team in the nation would certainly be a differentiator.