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 have positioned themselves to be essentially exactly where we hoped they would be at this time of the year when we first looked at the season several months ago. As BoileHawk pointed out, yes, the dream of a Big Ten title is dead, but everything else is everything we had hoped for.
With a win on Sunday, Iowa would finish the regular season inside the top-5 nationally - right where they started. They’ll have a conference record that matches that of the conference champions a season ago, who attained that record in a much weaker conference.
All of that is lined up to result in a 3 seed for the Hawkeyes in next week’s Big Ten Tournament and likely a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. While the former is locked in, barring a loss against Wisconsin on Sunday, the latter could change depending on how things go around the country this weekend and into conference tournament play.
As we wait for Sunday’s showdown, here’s your weekly look at which games to watch and who to root for around the country.
With no games on Friday night, all eyes will turn to Saturday in this final weekend of regular season play. This is where we’ll get most of our answers in terms of impacts for the Hawkeyes and their potential seed.
In the Big Ten, there are three games on the docket and all three will have implications for the Hawkeyes. At 11am CT, Rutgers travels to Minnesota for their season finale on FOX. Hawkeye fans should probably be rooting for the Golden Gophers in this one as a win would bump Iowa’s loss in Minneapolis back up to Q1. It would also open the door for Maryland to jump up to the 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, preventing Iowa from having to play Wisconsin in back-to-back games should they win on Sunday.
The other big one for Iowa’s Big Ten seeding interests is Indiana at #23 Purdue. That’s a 1pm tip on ESPN and a Purdue loss opens a path for Iowa to retain the 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament even if they stub their toe against Wisconsin on Sunday.
Things round out with #4 Illinois at #7 Ohio State at 3pm on ESPN. An Ohio State win here could throw a major wrench into Iowa’s Big Ten Tournament seeding. If OSU and Purdue both win while Iowa loses on Sunday, the Hawkeyes fall out of the double bye and down to the 5 seed in the Big Ten. However, if the Buckeyes knock off Illinois, the door would be cracked open for a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament if Iowa could get two more Q1 wins before taking down the Illini themselves in the semifinals.
Outside the Big Ten, the big focus for Hawkeye fans should be on the teams currently sitting on the 2 and 3 lines. With Ohio State and Iowa both currently 2s, that leaves just Alabama and West Virginia from the consensus bracket at Bracket Matrix. On the 3 line, we’re looking at Houston, Villanova, Kansas and Arkansas.
Here’s a rundown of who each of those teams will play and when (team to root for bolded):
- #17 Oklahoma State at #6 West Virginia - 11am on ESPN2
- #8 Alabama at Georgia - 1pm on CBS
- #10 Villanova at Providence - 1:30pm on FOX
- Texas A&M at #12 Arkansas - 4pm on SECN
On Sunday, we are of course locked in to #5 Iowa hosting #25 Wisconsin for senior day. A win locks up the 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and likely locks Iowa into a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A loss opens things up to some less than exciting possibilities.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten, there is just one game that really has any impact on Iowa and that’s Penn State at Maryland. It’s a 6pm tip on BTN. This one only becomes a factor if Minnesota knocks off Rutgers. In that scenario, a Maryland win coupled with an Iowa win would put the Terps into the 6 spot in the Big Ten Tournament in place of Wisconsin and a potential matchup with Iowa in the quarterfinals.
Outside the conference, we have a few more games that could have some impact for Iowa. At 11am on CBS, Memphis is at #9 Houston. The Cougars are currently a consensus 3 seed but a 2 seed per Joe Lunardi despite a pretty weak resume. A loss here would ease any concerns for Iowa fans of falling behind Houston.
The other big one is #18 Texas Tech at #3 Baylor. That’s at 3pm on ESPN. It’s not likely Iowa could really threaten to jump Baylor, but the Bears have been struggling of late and another loss might just allow us all to have some discussion next weekend if, say Iowa were to run the table.
Enjoy the final weekend of regular season college hoops. This time next week we’ll be breaking down potential seeding with our eyes on some big prizes.