With just one week to go until ¡Domingo Selección!, BHGP will provide a daily rundown of potential bracket scenarios, straight from the mouths of the nation's preeminent bracketologists. Note: These brackets have not been approved by the FDA, and are provided on a trial basis only.
CURRENT STATUS: SIX-ISH
Joe Lunardi, ESPN: 7 seed, Omaha, vs. Virginia Commonwealth
Jerry Palm, CBS: 6 seed, Omaha vs. Boise State
Chris Dobbertean, SB Nation: 7 seed, Omaha vs. Ole Miss
Stewart Mandel, Fox Sports: 6 seed, Jacksonville vs. Colorado State/Temple winner
Bracket Matrix: Top 7 seed
Yesterday, we examined the possibility of Iowa moving into the sixth spot. Today, let's look at the other side: Could Iowa end up back in an 8 or 9 seed? Is there the threat that Iowa gets jumped by anyone behind them?
The answer, of course, is yes. March in the middle seeds is like being in a dense forest, and danger lurks around every corner. And while the good news for Iowa is that it appears to be on the high end of the seven seeds, the bad news remains that just two or three unfortunate events could send Iowa hurtling toward the dreaded 8/9 lines.
The most significant threat might be from inside our own conference, as both Ohio State and Michigan State -- who are either slightly above or slightly below Iowa in current seeding, depending on who you ask -- are on a collision course in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. If one of them can win Friday and somehow get past Maryland into the conference championship game, it could well leapfrog Iowa in seeding. Iowa could also get demoted if Oregon makes a deep run in the Pac-12 tourney, or if NC State beats Duke and makes the ACC Tournament final.
Quite possibly the most important tournament for Iowa this week, besides its own, is the Big East. Bracket Matrix currently has five Big East teams withing striking distance of Iowa's six/seven seeding: Georgetown, Butler, Providence, Xavier and St. John's. And while two of those five will be eliminated when Providence faces St. John's and Butler plays Xavier in the quarterfinals, Villanova's recent struggles hardly make them a surefire finalist. If two Big East mid-seed teams make the final -- especially if it is St. John's and Xavier -- they could take a spot or two from Iowa.
The upside for mid-major favorites in other conference tournaments isn't as great. San Diego State is the clear favorite in the Mountain West; only Colorado State and Boise State are even in contention from the MWC, and neither carries enough sway to make a win by the Aztecs look good enough to jump Iowa. Virginia Commonwealth's stock is dropping like a stone, and an Atlantic 10 title likely won't change that trajectory significantly. On a similar note, while a Cincinnati win in the American Conference tournament could take the Bearcats past Iowa, it would also likely move SMU behind the Hawkeyes, a net neutral.
Everything is contingent on Iowa taking care of its own business in the Big Ten Tournament. A loss to Nebraska or Penn State in Thursday's second round would effectively eliminate Iowa from a 6 seed and make a 7 look doubtful. A win on Thursday followed by a spirited loss to Purdue would likely be meting expectations. A close loss to Wisconsin in the semifinals would solidify Iowa's case, and a run to the conference final makes all of this moot. What Iowa does is still most important to what Iowa can get. It's just not the only factor.
WHAT TO WATCH: TUESDAY
We won't be into serious major-conference tournament action until Wednesday; the ACC opening rounds are being played this afternoon, but the teams involved are all at least five games under .500 for the season (BEST CONFERENCE IN THE NATION THO). You can turn on ESPN and throw the remote across the room, though. The game of the night could well be the Horizon League championship between Valparaiso and Green Bay (6:00 CT, ESPN), with Valpo an extremely dark horse bubble team if they don't win the conference title. The Crusaders are 27-5 on the season with three Horizon losses that they trailed by a total of 4 points at the end of regulation, and they have a mid-major trump card: They beat the pants off of current mid-major darling Murray State in late November.
If that doesn't do it for you, stay on ESPN for the WCC championship between Gonzaga and BYU (8:00 CT). The Zags are big, bigger than Iowa, but I can't yet tell if they would be a wonderful or terrible matchup for the Hawkeyes in a potential 2/7 second-round game. Meanwhile, BYU could put a stake in the heart of Illinois and/or Indiana with a win, their second over Gonzaga in the last two weeks.