The Iowa Hawkeyes need to do work in order to gain entry in this year’s NCAA tournament. They can crash the party by winning four games in four days or pull an upset and hope that’s enough.
Iowa will play Northwestern on Thursday, March 14th at approximately 8pm, the last game of the day. If they win, they will face third seed Michigan State on Friday around 8pm.
Iowa beat Northwestern two times this season. A 70-50 affair in Evanston and a 71-57 win at Carver Hawkeye Arena. While Northwestern is seeded 11th, they lost to 12th seeded Penn State last week in Evanston. In my opinion, Northwestern is the worst team in the Big Ten.
Iowa won’t get much, if any RPI boost from beating Northwestern so the Hawkeyes will need to beat NW and then Michigan State if they have any real chance of pulling an at large bid.
Fran McCaffery sounded optimistic on Saturday related to the availability of point guard Mike Gesell for the Big Ten Tourney. Gesell has been out of action since Iowa’s late February loss at Nebraska with a stress reaction in his foot.
Michigan State beat Iowa 62-59 in the first week of January, the only meeting between the teams this year. Iowa played that game without its leading scorer Devyn Marble, who had rolled his ankle in practice just days before the game. That injury slowed Marble down a great deal as he would average just 7.2 points per game over his next seven contests, or half of his 14 points per game average for the season.