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Indiana Hoosiers v. Iowa Hawkeyes: IU seeks to keep momentum, avenge Iowa City blowout.

Iowa Hawkeyes
Current record: 9-13 (2-8)
Current RPI:  161 (IU is #147)
Current Sagarin: 113 (IU is #81)
Current Pomeroy: 80 (IU is #61)
2009-10 record: 10-22 (4-14)
2009-10 RPI: 210
2009-10 Sagarin:
2009-10 Pomeroy: 173
Series: IU leads 94-72
Last Iowa win: 1/23/2011 (91-77 in Iowa City)
Last IU win: 2/4/2009 (68-60 in Bloomington)
Last Iowa win in Bloomington: 1/24/2010 (58-43)
Pomeroy scouting report
TV: 4 pm Saturday, ESPN2

Blog: Black Heart Gold Pants

Just two weeks after the Hawkeyes handed Indiana one of its most disheartening losses of the season, the Hoosiers get a chance at revenge when Iowa visits Bloomington on Saturday afternoon.  The Hawkeyes have the worst record in the Big Ten, both overall and in conference, but like IU, Iowa is showing more life lately, in no small part because of a home blowout win over Michigan State on Wednesday night.  Perhaps the most encouraging news is Iowa is a different team at home, as are most Big Ten teams.  Iowa is 2-3 at home, with wins over Michigan State and IU and a close loss to Iowa.  On the road, the Hawkeyes are 0-5 and have lost comfortably even to middling teams such as Minnesota, Michigan, and Penn State.

As I mentioned in my first preview, the Hawkeyes are moving at a faster tempo than the Lickliter version of the Hawkeyes and are a defense-oriented team.  On Wednesday, they held MSU to .81 points per possession.  Despite this, the Hawkeye offense scored at will against IU, while the Hoosiers' offense wasn't half bad.  This is a game that IU has an excellent chance to win if the Hoosiers can show the same intensity that have had over the last three games (really, five of the last six games). Finally, I would guess that Iowa coach Fran McCaffery would be particularly gratified with a win.  McCaffery spent eleven years as an assistant at Notre Dame, under both Digger Phelps and John McLeod, from 1988-1999.  During that time, the Irish went 2-8 against IU and never won at Assembly Hall.

As I mentioned in the comments below, IU remains a postseason longshot, but it's not impossible.  Assuming that the NIT will take IU only if we have a winning record, then IU will need five wins in the regular season and Big Ten Tournament.  A 5-3 regular season finish would put IU at 17-14 on the season.  A 4-4 finish would put IU at 16-15, and would require one more win in the Big Ten Tournament to guarantee a record of no worse than 17-16.  It's a  tall order, but what else is new?  Here is how Pomeroy rates our chances in the final eight games (please note, this is not a chronological schedule, but is a list of our eight remaining games in order of likelihood of winning):

2/5 Iowa 74%
2/19 Northwestern 61%
2/12 @ Michigan 35%
2/23 Purdue 30%
3/2 Wisconsin 27%
3/5 @ Illinois 14%
2/8 @ Purdue 10%
2/26 @ Ohio State 4%

Clearly, there are a couple of big dropoffs.  First, IU is favored in two remaining games (Iowa and Northwestern), but after that, there is a 26 percentage-point dropoff.  That says that Iowa and Northwestern are must-wins.  The next three we will call the "unlikely but not unfathomable wins."  These are the games at Michigan and at home against Purdue and Wisconsin.  To get to four wins and have a prayer of getting eligible in the Big Ten Tournament, we need two of the three wins.  That's a tall order.  To be assured of a winning record, we need to win all three.  Even tougher.  The final three are the longshots.  Frankly, a win at Illinois seems much more likely than wins at Purdue at Ohio State, but a win in any of these games would be yet another significant upset.  

At the time that IU lost three in a row to Northern Iowa, Colorado, and Penn State, it seemed likely that those losses would eliminate IU from postseason contention.  While that isn't quite true, the odds are that the failure to win at least one of those games will be the difference.   Still, IU has played well enough to keep us interested well into February, and that seemed impossible just a month ago.