DO YOU WANT TO BUILD A BRACKET?: February 18

By Patrick Vint on February 18, 2020 at 12:28 pm
Three seconds in the lane!
© David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
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The brackets are coming fast now, so we're going to update whenever we have enough to justify it.

THE BRACKETS

ESPN (Joe Lunardi, 2/17):  7 seed, East Regional vs. Wichita State

Lunardi is now just moving Iowa down a line every week.  This week, the Hawkeyes have been passed by BYU and Ohio State.  Both are ranked ahead of Iowa in Kenpom and Net ranking, so it makes sense.

Part of the issue for Iowa now is that many of its early-season wins aren't looking anywhere near as good now.  Beating Texas Tech on a neutral court still holds some cache, but Syracuse has lost four of five and is firmly out of the field at the moment, Iowa State has completely imploded, and Cincinnati looks to be barely in the field of 68.  Losses to DePaul (who beat everyone in non-con but are now 1-11 in the Big East) and Nebraska (yikes) aren't looking too great at the moment, either.

Wichita isn't a great matchup.  Frankly, none of Lunardi's ten seeds -- Purdue, Xavier and UNI -- are.  With a win, Iowa would get Duke. 

So, um, yyyeah.  Let's just not get a seven seed.

SB Nation (Chris Dobbertean, 2/18): 6 seed, Midwest Regional vs. USC/ETSU

YOU'RE DEAD TO US, CHRIS DOBBERTEAN.

After briefly moving Iowa to a 4 seed last week, Dobbertean's wings have melted, and the Hawkeyes are now a 6.  This probably makes more sense.  It's also deeply disappointing, because just about everyone has Iowa at a 6 seed now.

The good news: Dobbertean has Iowa against a play-in opponent, which implies that Iowa is one of the two best 6 seeds in his pool (he confirmed that Iowa is the "top 6" in his seed post).  If Iowa's getting someone along the lines of USC or East Tennessee State in the first round with an eye toward Louisville, I can live with it.

CBS Sports (Jerry Palm, 2/17): 6 seed, East Regional vs. Florida

Only the opponent changes for Palm this week.  Florida is OK.  Villanova as a counterpart 3 seed would be about as good as can be expected for Iowa.

Bracket Matrix (2/18): 6 seed

Iowa stays firmly entrenched as a 6 seed.  Of 76 brackets submitted on Tuesday, Iowa was a 6 seed in 50 of them.  Eleven brackets have Iowa on a seed line above a 6.  Fifteen have Iowa as a 7 or 8 seed.  It's a bell curve, with the overwhelming majority on the 6 line.

A commenter last week brought up the Bracket Matrix rankings, which are essentially a grade for each bracket site in the matrix based on past performance.  If we look at the outliers from Tuesday's brackets, one site gave Iowa a 4 seed; it's ranked 121st, so not great!  The two sites that gave Iowa an 8 seed are ranked 131st and 58th (among the 62 sites that haven't been posted for three seasons).  There's a reason why they are outliers.

THE PERIPHERALS

NCAA NET rating (through 2/17): 28
Kenpom: 21

Iowa's peripheral rankings keep slipping for the reasons we previously discussed: The Hawkeyes' strength of schedule continues to fade as its non-conference slate struggles.  That, combined with the slog that is Big Ten play, makes Iowa look worse every week.

John Gasaway Bubble Watch: Should Be In
Eamonn Brennan Bubble Watch: LOCK

 

Eamonn, Iowa native that he is, finally took the plunge Tuesday morning:

Iowa is a well-deserved lock. The Hawkeyes, led by breakout star center/national player of the year candidate Luka Garza, have been one of the pleasant surprises of the season, and have put together a very impressive résumé in the process. What’s more, their final five regular-season games — Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Purdue, Illinois — is, like the Big Ten more broadly, a murderer’s row lacking the capacity for a single bad loss.

Back in 2013-14, Eamonn actually had to move Iowa back out of lock territory because of a late February implosion.  As you can see here, he's already accounted for that this season.

CURRENT STATUS: Safely in the field, 6 seed.

GAMES TO WATCH:

I know we said that last week was the most important week of the season for Iowa, but if Dobbertean's list is correct, the upcoming Thursday-Tuesday stretch is actually more important.  Iowa gets Ohio State (also a 6 seed) at home Thursday, followed by a trip to East Lansing (last 5 seed) on the following Tuesday.  Throw in a home game against Penn State next weekend and a road trip to reeling Illinois, and Iowa's seeding destiny is largely in its own hands.

Elsewhere, Iowa is clumped around the upper-middle of the Big East, so anything involving Villanova, Seton Hall, Marquette, Creighton or Butler becomes must-see TV (with losses by those last three teams preferable for Iowa).  Marquette-Creighton tonight in Omaha is potentially big, as is Butler-Seton Hall Wednesday and Butler-Creighton Sunday.

Kentucky vs. LSU tonight is potentially a big one, as both teams are within a couple of spots of Iowa in NET.  Rutgers' trip to Wisconsin Sunday is a game where both teams somehow losing would be preferable.

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