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Iowa Basketball Bracket Watch: Hawkeyes Punished for Michigan Loss

Lots of top teams dropped games this week. Iowa was the only one to drop a seed line.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Michigan
Iowa’s brutal loss at Michigan cost them a seed line.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes lost an ugly one on Thursday night. After playing Michigan tight for the first 20 minutes, the wheels fell off in the final 20 and Iowa was blown out by the #3 Wolverines. The Hawkeyes were the only ones to go down this week as every team ranked 4-9 not name Villanova lost at least one game this week. Some lost multiple since we last looked at the brackets.

Now, with just one week before conference tournament time, we take a look at how things stand for Iowa and those other teams that dropped games this week.

Current Rankings

The Hawkeyes moved up again in the national polls last week after finishing their second straight week of perfection. That was felt more in the AP than the Coaches Poll, but notably, Iowa was still considered a top team by the advanced metrics entering Thursday’s matchup with Michigan. The big loss hurt them there, but not too significantly.

Here’s your weekly look at how things stand in the various rankings.

KenPom: 5
Sagarin: 4
AP: 9
NET: 6
RPI: 39

Nitty Gritty

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

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Since we looked at the team sheet last Friday, the most notable changes have come to Q1. Iowa picked up a Q1 win as Michigan State has climbed back in following their wins over Illinois and Ohio State. Iowa also dropped a Q1 game to Michigan and now stand at 6-6 overall in that category.

Elsewhere, those wins for MSU also bumped the home win over the Spartans up to Q2, meaning Iowa has played just one Q3 game all season. Iowa’s win over Penn State last Sunday is also a Q2 win and likely to stay there. It’s also worth noting the Rutgers is just barely holding on to Q1 status at 30th in the NET rankings.

Latest Bracketology

Where we start to see some weirdness, and perhaps what we all knew was coming, is in the brackets released on Friday. Over at BracketMatrix, things haven’t been updated since the Michigan loss and Iowa is still a 2 seed in the consensus as such.

But when you look at the latest brackets on CBS Sports or ESPN, Iowa has now dropped a seed line due to the blowout loss at Michigan. After climbing to a 2 seed a week ago, Iowa is almost certainly poised to be a 3 seed in the consensus bracket by the weekend.

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What’s almost comical about the latest drop for Iowa is not that they fell, but how they fell in the context of everything else that happened in college basketball since we last looked at the brackets.

Since last Friday, here’s a rundown of how the top seeded teams have performed:

  • Gonzaga and Baylor both went undefeated against Q4 opponents
  • Michigan went 2-0 against #4 Ohio State and #9 Iowa
  • Ohio State went 0-2 at #3 Michigan and unranked Michigan State
  • Illinois went 1-1 against unranked MSU and Nebraska
  • Alabama went 1-1 with a Q3 win over Vanderbilt and a blowout loss at #20 Arkansas
  • Oklahoma went 1-1 against Q3 opponents Iowa State and Kansas State
  • Villanova got a Q2 win over UConn and a Q3 win over St. John’s
  • Iowa went 1-1 with a loss at #3 Michigan and a Q2 win over Penn State

So, it looks like total carnage after Michigan for everyone except Villanova. You might expect all those teams to take a hit, or because they all lost to see them all stay the same. If you’re thinking the latter, you’re half right. All those teams are unchanged in the seedings this week except one: Iowa.

The Hawkeyes fall off the 2 line as West Virginia climbs up. Ohio State, which holds a 1-game advantage over Iowa in overall and conference record and lost to the same Michigan team Iowa did (except at home vs. away) and dropped a stinker to unranked Michigan State on Thursday night, holds on to a 1 seed. Illinois loses to unranked Michigan State and wins over a miserable Nebraska and holds on to their 2 seed. Alabama loses a far worse game than Iowa, and like Ohio State is just one game better overall against a softer schedule, doesn’t move at all.

This isn’t a new phenomenon for Hawkeye fans and frankly, it will take care of itself if Iowa can win at Ohio State on Sunday (unless, of course, OSU just drops and the Hawkeyes get no credit since OSU would then be the 5 seed in the Big Ten and riding a 3-game losing streak). But it is still baffling to see it play out this way at every turn.

Rooting Interests

With just three games left on the schedule, this really all comes down to Iowa. If they can win these next three games, a 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament is still in play and that would virtually lock them into a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament (barring more chicanery like noted above).

On Sunday, Iowa travels to Ohio State and that is the biggest game of the weekend by far. A win puts Iowa in the driver’s seat for a double bye in the BTT while also potentially allowing them to jump OSU in the NCAA Tournament seeding.

Beyond that, it’s time to really start pulling for Michigan State and Wisconsin to do some more damage against teams like Illinois, who Iowa could jump with a win this weekend. The Hawkeyes also need Purdue to lose a game as noted in the rundown of Big Ten seeding scenarios earlier this week.

Outside of the Big Ten, all those teams noted above as having been unchanged by losses last week need to keep losing. At some point, they will have to be punished for dropping games and if Iowa can run the table they’ll make headway on the seed lines. West Virginia, which took Iowa’s spot on the 2 line this week, is the one most needed to fall as they’re closest on the S-curve at the moment.

We’ll dive into specific games to watch over the weekend that involve the above teams in our weekend watch guide.