Iowa Hawkeyes among CBS Sports’ most popular conference tournament sleeper picks
An underwhelming showing against the Nebraska Cornhuskers may have stung a bit in the moment, but it doesn’t necessarily define the Iowa Hawkeyes entire season as a whole.
The Hawkeyes are sitting with an overall record of 19-12 and an 11-9 mark in Big Ten play. While the record in conference play would lead one to believe they are consistent, it has been a record achieved by streaks of wins and, unfortunately, losses.
Wins have come against Indiana, who they swept, Northwestern, and Michigan State, all who are virtual locks for the NCAA Tournament. With those wins, equally as head scratching losses have occurred with being swept by Nebraska, losses to Penn State and Ohio State, all of which are longshots to make the tournament at this point.
Those wins and losses may be the exact reason that CBS Sports’ collection of college basketball analysts have named Iowa as the most popular sleeper pick to win the Big Ten Tournament.
Breakdown: The Big Ten Tournament will likely have a greater impact on deciding what the NCAA Tournament field looks like than any other league tournament. Entering the week, CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm had four teams from the conference considered as bubble squads. Among them are Penn State and Michigan, who are slotted among the “Last Four In” while Wisconsin is among the “First Four Out.” Rutgers will also need to make some noise after losing six of its final eight regular season games. Though No. 1 seed Purdue won the league by three games, the Boilermakers have looked shaky in recent weeks and will be fending off a huge chase pack in what may be the sport’s deepest league. – Cobb, CBS Sports
Six analysts were polled and four of them picked the Hawkeyes as the top sleeper pick with Illinois and Michigan each receiving one vote as the top sleeper.
The analysts were also asked their favorite outright pick to win the Big Ten Tournament and that saw much more of a split. The Purdue Boilermakers and Indiana Hoosiers each received three picks as the favorite to take home the hardware.
The Big Ten Tournament gets underway on Wednesday, March 8, with Ohio State vs. Wisconsin tipping off, followed by Nebraska vs. Minnesota. Iowa tips off on Thursday, March 9, against the winner of the Badgers and Buckeyes.
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