Why the rest of the schedule matters for Iowa men’s basketball
Good news, Iowa fans! For all of the low points of this season where it felt like the NCAA Tournament had slipped out of the hands of the Hawkeyes, postseason dancing appears to firmly be in the plans for Iowa.
After their massive comeback victory over Michigan State, it appears as though Iowa is a safe bet to make the tournament at this point. Most Bracketology predictions have the Hawkeyes as a No. 8 seed. With how high the quality of play has been in the Big Ten this year, Iowa now feels safe regardless of how they finish out the season.
With that in mind, let me tell you why these games against Indiana and Nebraska as well as the upcoming Big Ten Tournament are extremely important for Iowa.
To start out with, you should never leave any potential room for error. Sure, it may seem like a lock that Iowa will be in the NCAA Tournament, but there are no guarantees. It’s like in the UFC, don’t hope for the judges to bail you out on criteria. Make a statement that you deserve to be in this game.
Iowa has a huge chance to prove themselves as true contenders with the remaining few games and to answer some serious questions. While nobody is expecting them to walk into Bloomington and knock off a highly-ranked opponent in No. 13 Indiana, this is a great opportunity to show that they can compete outside of Carver-Hawkeye arena.
The struggles on the road have been well documented for the Hawkeyes this year. Nine of their 11 losses have come outside of their home arena. That includes two neutral site games against TCU and Duke, though they narrowly defeated Clemson on neutral ground early in the season.
If the Hawkeyes are going to do anything this March, they need to prove that they can win wherever the venue. They have the opportunity to do so with these remaining games and to just build that confidence in general.
Even if they made it in the tournament after three straight losses, it would be extremely hard for anyone to rally around this team as a real contender to do anything. Iowa would become this year’s easy pick-against in your March Madness bracket. None of us want that at all.
Winning both or at least splitting the two remaining regular season games against Indiana and Nebraska would go a long way to inspiring confidence around the Hawkeyes once again. A strong showing in the Big Ten Tournament would as well.
Momentum for the Big Dance and figuring out woes away from Carver are the two most important pieces of tonight and the next several weeks for Iowa.
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