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Iowa Basketball: Updated Big Ten Tournament Seeding Scenarios

We enter the final week of the regular season with Iowa on the rise. Where can they finish in the Big Ten standings?

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Ohio State
Iowa blew past Ohio State in the standings on Sunday.
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

It is officially the final week of the regular season around college basketball and like the rest of the season and year, this week is likely to be a wild ride. Last week saw a full six of the nation’s top-10 teams lose at least one game. With the losses, as well as big wins, there is sure to be plenty of movement when it comes to updated brackets this week.

But before we get to the NCAA Tournament, the Iowa Hawkeyes have a Big Ten Tournament to worry about. Sunday’s big time win over Ohio State was a big boost to Iowa’s spot in the standings as of today and sets them up well for the Big Ten Tournament next week.

Here’s a look at how the seedings would shake out if the season was in fact done today:

Image via Big Ten Network.

Importantly, Iowa is up from a 4 seed when we first explored the scenarios a week ago to a 3 seed entering the final week. But more importantly, with the win the potential outcomes are now much more narrowed and the downside has been limited.

So, again using the tool from mred, let’s walk through the potential Big Ten Tournament seeding scenarios for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Iowa Remains the 3 Seed

The default scenario at this point, using Sagarin’s individual game predictions, is that Iowa finishes the year as the 3 seed. Those default assumptions hinge on one key outcome: Iowa doesn’t lose to Nebraska or Wisconsin.

If the Hawkeyes were to lose a stinker in their final two home games, they would need some help. Specifically, they need one of the following to happen to secure that third seed.

  1. Iowa wins out
  2. Ohio State loses at least one game AND Purdue loses at least one game AND Iowa doesn’t lose both games

Unfortunately for Iowa fans, the win over Wisconsin this weekend and the fact they didn’t have to face Iowa in Iowa City or with CJ Fredrick ensured Illinois cannot finish below 2nd in the Big Ten standings, despite matchups at Michigan and Ohio State to close out the year.

Iowa Falls to 4th

As you can see from the 3 seed scenarios, this is really a three-team race for 3rd, 4th and 5th in the Big Ten. The win over Ohio State means Iowa is in the driver’s seat. But, should they lose to either Nebraska or Wisconsin this week, they could fall to fourth, or lower.

  1. Iowa loses a game AND Purdue wins out AND Ohio State loses a game
  2. Iowa loses a game AND Ohio State wins out AND Purdue loses a game

Again, with only three teams in play for the three spots and only a handful of games remaining, the paths are narrowing with each passing game.

Iowa Drops out of Double Bye

When we first looked at the scenarios, things were mildly ominous in terms of Iowa’s ability to earn a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament. With just four games remaining and two of them on the road against top-5 teams nationally, Iowa needed to go 3-1 to control their own destiny in terms of earning a top-4 seed in the BTT.

When Iowa was blown out at Michigan on Thursday night, the alarm bells started to go off for many Hawkeye fans. But the win at Ohio State creates more leeway. With just home matchups against Nebraska and Wisconsin remaining, the path to 3-1 seems much more manageable. But if Iowa were to drop at least one game, there is still potential for a slide out of the double bye.

Here’s a look at how they could find themselves on the outside looking in.

  1. Iowa loses a game AND Ohio State AND Purdue win out
  2. Iowa loses both games AND Purdue wins a game

As narrow as the potential outcomes have become, we will have lot clearer picture come Thursday night. Iowa plays host to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who we learned Monday will be without their leading scorer Teddy Allen the rest of the way after he left the program. A win there and we can eliminate the final potential scenario above.

Here’s a look at the remaining schedule for each of the three teams fighting for positioning:

Iowa - Thursday vs. Nebraska, Sunday vs. Wisconsin
Ohio State - Saturday vs. Illinois
Purdue - Tuesday vs. Wisconsin, Saturday vs. Indiana

As you can see, Iowa will enter their Sunday season finale with Wisconsin knowing exactly what they need to maximize their seed potential. If both Ohio State and Purdue have run the table to close out their seasons, Iowa will need to win against Wisconsin. If there have been losses already, they may have less at stake.

Like the season to-date, it will surely be a wild ride. Buckle up and enjoy Hawkeye fans.