TENNIS BRACKETS: March 10

By Patrick Vint on March 10, 2020 at 1:22 pm
Cuttin' down the nets
© Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
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As we enter major-conference tournament season, here's where Iowa stands with the NCAA bracket prediction experts:

THE BRACKETS

ESPN (Joe Lunardi, 3/9):  6 seed, Midwest Regional vs. UCLA

The overwhelming consensus at this point is that Iowa is a solid 6 seed, which is roughly where the program has been hovering throughout February.  Lunardi paired the Hawkeyes with UCLA, his last "bye" team.  Both of his play-in games are also on the 11 line, and an autobid East Tennessee State is also at an 11, which would imply that Iowa is his fourth-ranked of the sixes (Michigan, Penn State, and Virginia also get six seeds).  However, that is guesswork, especially given that three Big Ten programs are all on the same seed line.

The glut of Big Ten teams around this area is a potential problem.  There are two Big Ten four seeds (Wisconsin, Maryland), a Big Ten five seed (OSU), three Big Ten sixes, and a Big Ten seven seed (Illinois).  Not only could this shuffle significantly at the conference tournament, but simply shoehorning all of those teams into a bracket without violating basic bracket construction won't be easy.  It would be grossly unfair for a team deserving of a six seed to be moved onto a seven line just to make the math right, but it's possible.

SB Nation (Chris Dobbertean, 3/10): 6 seed, West Regional vs. Texas Tech

Iowa's already played Texas Tech, so this is unlikely.  Utah State and some play-ins (Texas, Richmond, Stanford, Xavier) are also on the 11 line for Dobbertean today, any of which would be more likely than a repeat of the Tech win.  (By the way, who would have thought that the worst team at Iowa's Thanksgiving-weekend tourney was the defending national runner-up?  That field was beastly, in retrospect.)

 

CBS Sports (Jerry Palm, 3/10): 7 seed, West Region vs. Xavier

Jerry Palm, always the skeptic.  CBS has Iowa sharing a seed with Michigan, Providence and USC, which is kind of clown show.  Providence lost to Northwestern, Penn, Charleston and Long Beach State.  USC has beaten three teams in the Kenpom top 50, and just one since mid-January.  This looks a lot like "compare the records and figure out what everyone has done in the last couple of weeks" seeding...

which is actually probably what we're going to see from the committee.

 

Bracket Matrix (3/10): 6 seed

The Matrix has Iowa as the second-ranked of the 6 seeds, behind West Virginia and ahead of Michigan and Penn State.  Of the 60 brackets published on 3/10, 39 have Iowa as a six seed.  One guy has Iowa as a 9, but he also has Gonzaga on the 3 line, Florida State and Duke as one seeds, and UNI in a play-in game.  It takes that kind of galaxy brain thought to move the Hawkeyes considerably off the six line.

THE PERIPHERALS

NCAA NET rating (through 3/10): 34
Kenpom: 23

This is the dangerous part: Despite seven wins over "quad 1" opponents and a solid 13-9 record against "quad 1" and "quad 2" teams, Iowa's NET rating seems to be slipping on every loss and not recovering with every win.  If the seedings were based solely on NET, Iowa would now be playing in an 8/9 game.  DO NOT WANT.

It seems obvious at this point that two wins in the Big Ten Tournament would be gigantic, especially if it's Minnesota and Illinois (which would both be "quad 1" for NET purposes).  That would get Iowa's "quad 1" record to .500 or better, depending on how the semifinals and finals go, and probably boost the Hawkeyes into the NET top 30 at the end of the year.  Of course, Iowa has never won two games at the Big Tens under Fran -- hasn't even made the semis since the 2006 team won the whole thing -- so we're pushing for a once-in-a-generation event at this point.

CURRENT STATUS: 6 seed with a Big Ten split, 5-ish with two wins, possibly a 7 or 8 with an early flameout.

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