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Iowa has winning left to do if it is to be admitted into the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Just how much winning, who knows? But it obviously has to start Thursday against Indiana. Lose to the 17-14 Hoosiers in Washington at the Big Ten tournament, and it’s wait until Sunday night to see when and where the Hawkeyes start NIT play.
Iowa went 10-8 in the Big Ten and is 18-13 overall. Since the conference went from a 16-game to an 18-game schedule in the 2008 season, here is the list of the teams that had a winning record in league play but weren’t given NCAA berths:
2008: Ohio State (10-8 in the Big Ten, 19-13 after the Big Ten tourney)
2009: Penn State (10-8, 22-11)
2010: Illinois (10-8, 19-14)
2016: Ohio State (11-7, 20-13)
The ’16 Buckeyes had home losses to Texas-Arlington and Louisiana Tech, and lost three of their last five games by 15 points or more (all to Michigan State).
From 2008 to 2016, five of eight 10-8 clubs went to the NCAAs. So, a winning record in the Big Ten is far from a sure thing, as Iowa knows right now.
However, nine 9-9 Big Ten clubs went to the NCAAs in that time frame, four of them in the 2011 season. In fact, Illinois and Minnesota got in the 2013 NCAAs with 8-10 Big Ten marks, and both won a game in the tournament. The Fighting Illini were a No. 7 seed. Every season is different.
The ’08 Ohio State and ’09 Penn State teams that didn’t get in the NCAAs went on to sweep five games and win the NIT. Last year’s Ohio State club lost in the second round of the NIT to Florida.
The last time Iowa had a winning Big Ten record and was shut out of the NCAAs was 2007. It went 9-7 in league play, but was a mere 17-14 overall. It lost to Northern Iowa and Drake. Shortly after that season ended, Steve Alford left his job as Iowa’s coach to take a similar position at New Mexico.
That is the last time a Big Ten head coach of a major sport voluntarily departed to take a job in the Mountain West Conference.
Anyway, every game matters. As of Monday morning, ESPN “bracketologist” Joe Lunardi has Iowa as the fourth team out of the NCAAs. But know this:
1. Lunardi is not on the NCAA’s tournament selection committee.
2. It would have broken your poor mother’s heart had you told her you wanted to grow up to be a bracketologist when you were a child. That wasn’t the life she wanted for you.