Later today (roughly 8:30 PM CT tonight, to be more precise), Iowa's 2019 journey in the Big Ten Tournament will begin against Illinois. If it's anything like their sojourns in conference tournament land for the past decade-plus, it will be short and painful. Let's look at a few numbers that really hammer home just how brutal the Big Ten Tournament has been to Iowa for a long, long time now.
Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals appearances since 2014:
Michigan State 5
Ohio State 4
Penn State 2
* -- Joined B1G in 2015
— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) March 12, 2019
Playing in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament means playing on Friday. Iowa hasn't managed to do that since 2012 and 2013. Every single other Big Ten team has managed to make a quarterfinal appearance since then, even Rutgers (who made it last year). In fact, outside of Rutgers and Iowa, every single Big Ten team has made at least two quarterfinal appearances since 2014. Nebrasketball has been to three of the last five quarterfinals!
How bad has Iowa been in the Big Ten Tournament over the last 13 years?
Iowa won 3 games in the 2006 Big Ten Tournament.
They've won 3 games TOTAL in the last 12 Big Ten Tournaments.
— Ross W Blogboy (@RossWB) March 13, 2019
2006 was the last time Iowa (men's) basketball was any good in the Big Ten Tournament. That was the year that Jeff Horner, Greg Brunner, Adam Haluska, & Co. won three games in three days to claim Iowa's second-ever Big Ten Tournament title. Iowa won three games in the conference tournament that season; they've won a grand total of three games in the 12 conference tournaments since then, one game each in 2012, 2013, and last year.
Since 2006, Tubby Smith has more Big Ten Tournament victories (7) than Iowa (3).*
* - Of note, Tubby Smith has not been employed by a Big Ten team since 2013
— Tweetgood Marshall (@MJ_GIA) March 13, 2019
Again, Iowa has won just three games total in the Big Ten Tournament since 2012. So there are a lot of Big Ten coaches who have managed to win as many or more BTT games than the Hawkeyes. Tubby Smith has them more than doubled up on league tournament wins despite not even coaching a Big Ten team in the last six years.
Here's a little good news/bad news for Iowa in this year's Big Ten Tournament:
In the Big Ten Tournament, Iowa hasnt beaten a team from outside the state of Illinois since they won it in 2006. Illinois is the opponent tomorrow.
— Chris Hassel (@Hassel_Chris) March 14, 2019
Bad news: that stat is absurdly bad and dumb, of course. Iowa is 3-2 against teams from the Land of Lincoln since winning the tournament in 2006. They're 0-10 against teams from all other states in the Big Ten Tournament in that stretch.
Good news: they're playing Illinois tonight! So you're saying there's a chance...
Incidentally, no state in recent years has bedeviled Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament more than Michigan; Iowa is 0-7 against Michigan and Michigan State, which includes losing three straight to the Wolverines in 2008-2010 (every single year of the Todd Lickliter Era) and three straight to the Spartans in 2011-2013. Iowa also lost to Michigan in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament last year. If Iowa beats Illinois tonight, their opponent on Friday night will be... Michigan. (But we'll worry about that only if Iowa can somehow manage to win tonight.)
But let's end on a more upbeat note:
Before last night, the last time an Iowa women's basketball team won the Big Ten tourney was 2001. That year, Iowa's men's team was seeded 6th in the league tourney. It won 4 games in Chicago for the title. It came into the tourney with 6 losses in its last 7 games. Now you know.
— Mike Hlas (@Hlas) March 11, 2019
Are the stars aligning for an improbable Iowa run in the Big Ten Tournament? The Iowa women took care of business in their tournament last weekend and this year's Iowa men's team enters the BTT with a 6-seed and a string of recent futility in their results (losers of five of their final six versus six of their last seven). Hey, given how awful the Big Ten Tournament has been to Iowa for 10+ years, we'll happily hang our hat on any bit of coincidence that helps. Let's party like it's 2001, Iowa.