Thanks to results elsewhere, the stakes going into Iowa's regular season finale at Illinois were clear: win and get the #4 seed in the 2020 Big Ten Tournament (and the double-bye until Friday), lose and get the #5 seed and play on Thursday.
And, well, Iowa lost.
So the #5 seed it is. Here's the full bracket for this year's Big Ten Tournament.
Iowa will play the winner of #12 Minnesota and #13 Northwestern on Thursday, at approximately 1:30 PM Central. BTN has coverage of all Big Ten Tournament games Wednesday-Friday (CBS takes over for the semifinals on Saturday and the final on Sunday).
If there's any good news, it's that Iowa is probably in the friendlier half of the bracket. They're certainly in the half of the bracket that they had more success against this season -- they went 7-2 against those other six teams. By contrast, they went 4-7 against the teams in the bottom half of the bracket, which includes Purdue (who has owned Iowa of late) and Michigan State (who has caused Iowa more Big Ten Tournament heartbreak than anyone).
Iowa went 3-0 combined against their potential Thursday opponents. Iowa thumped Minnesota in Iowa City in December and eked out a road win over them three weeks ago. Iowa's only game against Northwestern was in Evanston in January; the good guys rolled in that one. And a potential rubber match with Illinois on Friday? Well, that doesn't sound so bad; Iowa had a solid win over them in Iowa City and narrowly lost the rematch on Sunday. Should Iowa get to Saturday they'd probably face Wisconsin and we wouldn't mind another chance to hand them an L.
But first things first: gotta win on Thursday, against either Minnesota or Northwestern. Neither team has any hope of playing in the postseason (barring the most improbable run in Big Ten Tournament history), but they didn't play this weekend like they were ready for their seasons to be over just yet. Minnesota demolished Nebrasketball earlier on Sunday (107-75!) and Northwestern ended the year with a stunning home win over Penn State on Saturday.
The Big Ten Tournament has primarily been a house of horrors for Iowa for the last 15 years -- but past misery doesn't guarantee future woe. This is a new year and hopefully a chance to create new some newer, better memories in the conference tournament.