Shortly after Iowa beat then #4 Ohio State on Sunday, my thoughts began to wander towards Iowa’s chances at earning a two-seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
While a one-seed is probably not entirely out of the realm of possibility, I believe Iowa will have to win the rest of their games, including the Big Ten tournament championship, to get into that discussion.
However, if Iowa wins it’s remaining regular season games (home against Nebraska and Wisconsin) and then win’s its first game in the Big Ten tournament, I believe it will lock up a three-seed at worst…and the three-seed is very, very important.
It means you can make it to the Elite Eight without having to play a one seed. Yes, you may have to play a two-seed in the Sweet 16 round, but this year, there appears to be a considerable drop off between the one line and the two line. In other words, I think Iowa could beat any of the projected two-seeds right now. In fact, they just beat one of them (Ohio State) by 16 points on the Buckeyes home court.
Then my mind turned to Iowa as a three or a two seed. During the instant reaction youtube broadcast on Sunday, I said that I believed Iowa had only been a two-seed once in school history, and then a three-seed in 2006 and one other time in the early 1980’s. I may not be able to remember where I put my car keys, but I can still recall stuff like this. Here is a listing of Iowa’s NCAA seeding since 1979:
Here is the history of @iowahoops seeds since 1979
We've had one #2 seed (1987) going to the Elite 8. 2x a #3 seed (we know about 2006) but also 1981 ended early (2nd round). 3x a #4 seed (1979, 89, 93) but never got past round 2https://t.co/jmV3wijDcn#hawkeyebasketball pic.twitter.com/uVIakynU1y
— HawkeyeRecap.com (@hawkeyerecap) March 1, 2021
Iowa was a three-seed in 1981 and suffered an upset loss to a six seed in the second round. Iowa was a three-seed in 2006 and lost to a 14-seed in the first round. Iowa played to it’s seed in 1987, when they were a two-seed, losing to #1 seeded UNLV…but they led by 18 points at halftime and it still bothers me to this day that they lost that game…as that Iowa team is one of the best college teams in NCAA history to not have made it to the Final Four. But I digress…
Iowa hasn’t been to the Sweet 16 since Dr. Tom Davis’ final year on the Iowa bench, in 1999. That’s 22 years. That means that most Iowa students who are current seniors were just being born when Iowa last made it to the Sweet 16 and the majority of Iowa students were not even born yet. Iowa has been to the Sweet 16 round just twice in 33 years.
This Iowa team has a very good chance of getting back to the Sweet 16, and perhaps beyond….and if they get on a roll here at the end of the season, they have an outside chance at a two-seed, a rarity in school history. But even a three-seed is a rarity and something that seems very much within their grasp right now.
By the way, as a total aside, the 2005-2006 Iowa team that lost to Northwestern State in the first round, ranked 154th in offensive efficiency and #1 in the nation in defensive efficiency that year. Iowa lost that game 64-63 on a last second three-pointer. The Hawkeyes had led the game by 17 points with under nine minutes to play, so it was an even greater collapse than the one suffered by the 1987 Hawkeyes.
Here’s to hoping we don’t see another one of those this year.