By John Bohnenkamp
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery never likes to talk much about all of the things surrounding NCAA tournament bracketology, but his players get it.
After the Hawkeyes’ loss to Michigan on Thursday night, Jordan Bohannon talked about the importance of Saturday’s game at Ohio State and brought up how Iowa needed “a Quad 1 win.”
Which the Hawkeyes got, dominating the Buckeyes in the second half for a 75-62 victory.
It was the first Quad 1 win of the season for Iowa, another positive on a postseason resumé that has a few blemishes.
The Hawkeyes (18-8 overall, 8-7 Big Ten) have five regular-season games, plus the Big Ten tournament, to add to their body of work.
The various bracketologists out there aren’t unanimous in their thoughts about the Hawkeyes. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had them as a 7 seed in the East in his mock bracket released before Saturday’s game. CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm had the Hawkeyes playing in a First Four game as a 12 seed but, again, that bracket came out before Saturday’s game. A survey of mock brackets, according to BracketMatrix.com, has the Hawkeyes as a composite 9 seed.
A look at Iowa’s metrics, with some thoughts, heading into the final two weeks of the regular season:
KenPom.com projects the Hawkeyes to finish 21-10 overall.
KenPom projects the Hawkeyes to go 11-9 in the Big Ten, finishing in a three-way tie for sixth.
Hawkeyes get Michigan State and Northwestern at home to finish the Big Ten schedule.
Iowa plays at Nebraska, Michigan and Illinois. Winning two of those gets the Hawkeyes to .500 on the road this season.
A run in the Big Ten tournament gives this a little bit of a shine.
Nonconference record: 10-1
The only loss is to Iowa State.
Average opponent NET rank: 71
Average opponent NET: 123
NET Strength of schedule: 48
NET Nonconference strength of schedule: 269
Looking for some teams to root for during Championship Week?
There’s Longwood, a 106-73 loser to the Hawkeyes in the season opener. The Lancers are 21-6 overall, 13-1 in the Big South.
Or how about Kansas City? The Roos, 89-57 losers to the Hawkeyes in the second game of the season, are in fourth place in the Summit League at 18-10 overall, 11-5 in the conference.
Quad 1: 1-6
The Hawkeyes have three Quad 1 games left in the regular season — Tuesday at home against Michigan State, and road games against Michigan and Illinois.
Quad 2: 5-2
There’s just one Quad 2 game remaining — at home against Northwestern next Monday.
Quad 3: 4-0
Friday’s game at Nebraska is a Quad 3 game. One thing that you really don’t want at this point in the season is a Quad 3 or 4 loss.
Quad 4: 8-0
THE CASE FOR THE JACKRABBITS
South Dakota State has clinched the Summit League regular season title, and can run through the conference unbeaten with wins at Oral Roberts and Kansas City.
But considering the Summit League is usually a one-bid league for the NCAA tournament, with the automatic bid being determined by the conference tournament champion, what happens if the Jackrabbits go unbeaten in conference play, but somehow fall in the conference tournament?
As the regular season champion, they’ll already be on the board for consideration for an at-large bid when the NCAA tournament selection committee meets. And they have an interesting resumé.
South Dakota State, 25-4 overall, has a NET of 68. The Jackrabbits have a nonconference strength of schedule of 101, and have a Quad 1 win and a Quad 2 win.
South Dakota State is 3-1 on a neutral court, with wins over Nevada, George Mason and Washington State. They also pass the “eye test,” although that isn’t something the committee considers much anymore.
Three seasons ago, the Jackrabbits roared through conference play at 14-2 and were the top seed in the conference tournament, only to get dumped by Western Illinois in the first round.
It would be best for them if an 8 seed doesn’t trip them up this season.
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
• A sweep of home games of Omaha and Denver would give Western Illinois the 6 seed in the Summit League men’s tournament.
• Two games separate the top 5 teams in the Missouri Valley Conference.
UNI is a half-game ahead of Loyola. The two teams meet in Cedar Falls on Saturday. The Panthers play at Indiana State on Wednesday, while the Ramblers play at Illinois State on Monday and at home against Evansville on Wednesday.
Photo: Iowa’s Kris Murray dunks in the second half of Sunday’s win at Ohio State. (Stephen Mally/hawkeyesports.com)