With so much parity in the Big Ten this season, one loss can be the difference between finishing second or tied for eighth. Hell, there’s so much insanity going on Iowa might technically still be able to win the Big Ten but that’s not why we’re here. Regardless of who finishes #1, Iowa should at the very least be seeking a top four finish to get a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament. The Hawkeyes haven’t finished in the top four since REDACTED was at the helm back in 2007 and back then they didn’t even have the double bye. Here are the current standings:
Iowa’s remaining schedule is Penn State, Purdue and at Illinois. They should be favored at home and KenPom projects them to beat the Nittany Lions and Boilermakers. Illinois is another story, so assume they lose and finish 21-10 (12-8). Now, let’s talk about the teams around them and how KenPom projects them to finish.
Remaining Schedule: vs. Michigan State (W), @ Rutgers (W), vs. Michigan (W)
Final Projected Record: 25-6 (15-5)
Remaining Schedule: @ Iowa (L), vs. Michigan State (W), @ Northwestern (W)
Final Projected Record: 23-8 (13-7)
Remaining Schedule: vs. Indiana (W), @ Ohio State (L), vs. Iowa (W)
Final Projected Record: 21-10 (13-7)
Remaining Schedule: vs. Minnesota (W), vs. Northwestern (W), @ Indiana (L)
Final Projected Record: 20-11 (13-7)
Remaining Schedule: @ Maryland (L), @ Penn State (L), vs. Ohio State (W)
Final Projected Record: 20-11 (12-8)
So, using KenPom's projections, Iowa couldn’t finish in the top four and would be a #6 seed, due to losing to Michigan State straight up.
At the most basic level, Iowa winning out would be the easiest thing to do. If they won out and nothing else changed, they’d finish 13-7 in conference and be a top four seed due to Illinois finishing 12-8. What other scenarios are there? There aren't a lot of realistic ones but they are:
Indiana beats Illinois, Michigan State loses out
Should Indiana beat Illinois and Sparty lose out, Illinois and Iowa would be 12-8 and Sparty would be 11-9. With Iowa and Illinois 1-1 against each other it would go to the second tiebreaker, which is each team’s record vs. the #1 team in the final regular-season standings. Assuming it’s Maryland, Iowa would win this tiebreaker as they beat Maryland, whereas Illinois went 0-2.
Minnesota beats Wisconsin, Michigan State loses out
Again, if they lose out, Michigan State would be 11-9 and Iowa would own the heads-up victory over Wisconsin, who would also be 12-8.
There are some other ones but none are likely and they don’t really end well for the Hawkeyes. At the most basic level, Iowa wants Maryland to win and Michigan State to lose but unfortunately, that still won’t be enough. They’ll need another loss from either Illinois or Wisconsin to backdoor their way in. Buckle up, because the next week or so is gonna be wild.