By Chris Hassel
Iowa's chances of climbing onto the NCAA Tournament bubble are slim, but there is a chance. The Hawks have to win at Illinois, at Nebraska, and home against Northwestern to close the season. If they do, they'll definitely be in contention. I don't see the Hawks winning at Illinois, but after years of being irrelevant on the college basketball scene, Iowa fans have hope --- something they haven't had in 6 years.
While Iowa closes with 3 games against teams below them in the standings, ISU closes with 3 of the Big 12's best teams. It's quite possible that the Cyclones could lose all 3 games. It would be interesting to see what would happen if Iowa won out, and ISU lost out. Both teams would have identical 10-8 conference records, with the edge going to Iowa given that the Big Ten is a tougher conference this season. ISU would be 20-11 overall, while the Hawks would be 18-13 with several really bad loses, and an awful RPI. However, it would be hard to overlook the fact that one team has beaten 4 top-25 teams, and closed the season on a 5-game winning-streak....while the other has just 1 top-25 win, and would close (theoretically) on a 3-game losing-streak. I think those two resumes would be very hard to choose between. The hot team has shown it can beat really good teams, and lose to really bad teams. The cold team has shown it doesn't lose games it's supposed to win, but it also doesn't pull many upsets. All that being said, I'd say there's about a 3% chance that actually happens. I still say the Cyclones have to win one more game, any game, to make the NCAA tourney.
I thought the Valley Tigers would be next to unstoppable on the basketball court this year, but that hasn't been the case. The Tigers, who began the year ranked in the top-3, lost 3 of their last 5 games to end the regular season. Then, on Friday in the Substate semifinals, Lincoln (11-11 on the season) pushed the Tigers to overtime. Valley survived --- but barley. As we see all the time in sports, talent doesn't always equal wins.
The Grand View men are in the MCC championship game, and they're playing my St. Ambrose Fighting Bees. St. Ambrose has won 14 straight. Grand View has no chance. In case you don't know how excited I get about Fighting Bees basketball, take a listen to my student tv call of a last-second win over William Penn from 2007. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUip4CDeJwo