WE GOT A BRACKET, FOLKS.
In what might have been the shortest amount of time that we've ever had to wait to see where Iowa slotted into a bracket, the NCAA Tournament Selection Show revealed the "West" region first, highlighted by #1 seed Gonzaga. The #2 seed in that region?
YOUR IOWA HAWKEYES.
Iowa will play #15 seed Grand Canyon in the first round. The game is scheduled to be played on Saturday, although no start time or arena has yet been announced for Iowa's game (or any other games). Reminder: the "West" region nomenclature is just for labeling purposes; the entire tournament is being held in and around Indianapolis this year, at a variety of sites. So Iowa won't have to do any traveling during the tournament. (And if you want to go watch Iowa in-person -- limited tickets are being sold -- you only have to book a trip to Indianapolis.)
This is officially Iowa's highest seed since being a #2 seed in the 1987 NCAA Tournament. That team made it to the Elite Eight before suffering a heartbreaking loss to UNLV. The last Iowa team to advance beyond the Elite Eight was the 1980 Hawkeyes, who were a #5 seed and made it to the Final Four. We're hoping this year's Iowa team will earn a spot in history alongside those squads.
Grand Canyon went 17-6 this year, winning both the WAC regular season championship and the WAC Tournament. They're ranked 108th per KenPom and their stronger side of the ball is on defense, where they rank 74th in defensive efficiency. Bryce Drew is the current coach of the Antelopes, taking over from former coach "Thunder" Dan Majerle. Drew hit a buzzer-beater to secure a famous buzzer-beater for Valparaiso when he was a player, then had a successful run as Valpo's head coach before going to Vanderbilt for a largely miserable three-year stint. Grand Canyon plays at a pretty slow tempo under Drew (314th nationally), but they do have some size in the post in the form of 7'0" senior center Asbjorn Midtgaard and 6'10" power forward Alessandro Lever.
If Iowa gets by the Antelopes, they'll face the winner of #7 seed Oregon and #10 seed VCU in the second round. The Ducks went 20-6 overall and 14-4 in the Pac-12, actually winning the regular season championship. Kansas is the #3 seed in this region, so that could be Iowa's foe in the Sweet 16 if both get that far. As we all know, Hawkeyes > Jayhawks. And, of course, a rematch with Gonzaga looms as the most likely game in the Elite 8 if Iowa can get that far.
While Gonzaga is the #1 overall seed in the tournament, Iowa's placement in their region doesn't necessarily mean that they were considered the weakest of the #2 seeds. Bracket placement rules prevent teams from the top four in the same conference from being placed in the same region if they would be seeded on the top four seed lines.
NCAA Tournament bracketing principles. For those who understand, the bracketing of the top two seed lines should be relatively clear. pic.twitter.com/4POTPe4qUC— Kevin Pauga (@KevinPauga) March 14, 2021
Since Illinois and Michigan were two of the #1 seeds in this bracket (Baylor was the other #1 seed), that means Iowa couldn't be a #2 seed in their regions. That meant Iowa could only be in the Gonzaga or Baylor regions, even if they were technically ranked higher on the s-curve.
But: BRACKET TIME. The full bracket is available here. What do you think of Iowa's seed and bracket path? Hit up the comments!