No. 7 seed hasn't been lucky at Big Ten tourneys

Iowa will try to be the first seventh-seed to win it all

Washington, D.C., the home of the 2017 Big Ten men’s basketball tournament and other stuff (Larry Downing/Reuters)
Washington, D.C., the home of the 2017 Big Ten men’s basketball tournament and other stuff (Larry Downing/Reuters)

When in doubt, go with the chalk.

There is a good reason why no No. 7 seed, which Iowa is this week, has ever won a Big Ten men’s basketball tournament.

Or a No. 8, a No. 9, or a No. 10-through-14.

The fifth-through-10th seeds have to win four straight days to take the title. The 11th-through-14th seeds must win five straight days.

Only one team in the first 19 Big Ten tourneys has won four games to capture the crown, and that was the sixth-seeded 2001 Hawkeyes. We were all younger then.

No seventh-seed has reached the championship game, and only three have gotten as far as the semifinals. A No. 7 seed hasn’t advanced beyond the quarterfinals since Michigan State in 2011.

The ACC tournament dates to 1954, and a No. 6 is the lowest seed to win it.

The Pac-12 tourney dates to 1987, and a No. 6 is the lowest seed to win it.

The Big 12 tourney dates to 1997, and a No. 4 (Iowa State in 2014) is the lowest to ever win it.

The outlier is Connecticut in 2011, a No. 9 seed that won five games in five days to capture the Big East championship. Maybe Nebraska will do the same thing at this year’s Big Ten tourney. Maybe not.

At any rate, all talk about Iowa winning twice in Washington is premature. Winning once will be a handful in itself given the opponent is 10th-seed Indiana, which lost in overtime at Iowa on Feb. 21.


The No. 7 and No. 10 seeds have squared off in every Big Ten tourney. The No. 7s have a 10-9 advantage. In other words, it’s a coin-flip game. Not literally, mind you.

Entering the tourney with a 4-game winning streak is a great thing for the Hawkeyes, but it won’t mean much once they meet the Hoosiers in Verizon Center.

“A couple years ago we won six in a row,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said Sunday. “We were 6-6 (in the Big Ten), ended up 12-6. I thought we were poised at that point.

“The thing about conference tournament play, I’ve obviously played in a number of them, everything’s different.”

Iowa hasn’t reached the Big Ten semifinals since it won the tournament in 2006. If ever there were a good time for the Hawkeyes to go that deep, this is it. Two wins — with the second against Wisconsin Friday night — would be a heck of a resume-enhancer for the NCAA tournament’s selection committee.

But first, Indiana. If the Hawkeyes don’t take care of business Thursday, they’ll play an NIT game at home next week against Oakland or Belmont or somebody.

If they do knock off the Hoosiers, Friday night’s meeting with Wisconsin would probably come with an NCAA berth on the line.

Kind of an exciting scenario, no?


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