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Implications for Iowa:
The Hawkeyes are a much better team than most people realize, having battled both Indiana and Michigan State down to the wire, and holding their own against Wichita State in the Cancun Challenge.
In the bracket I’ve been drafting in the aftermath of this past weekend, I have Iowa as one of the first three teams missing the cut. However, a loss to Purdue or Penn State in the upcoming days could undo all of the good they’ve done to this point.
They’ve got seven games left on their schedule that they should be able to win and another six that no one would fault them for losing. If they can close out the season 8-5 and get to an overall record of 21-10, I think they go to the tournament. In that scenario, keep in mind that for every loss in a game they should be able to win, they would need to pick up an extra win against one of the elites of the Big Ten.
Implications for Purdue:
The Boilermakers have a lot of work to do if they’re going to go dancing in March. Fortunately, the Big Ten provides a nearly nightly opportunity to pick up a marquee win. They should be in better position than they are, but they got hosed by the emphasis on elbows back in November.
Leading by four with 44 seconds remaining, D.J. Byrd had the ball with two Villanova players trying to foul him to extend the game when his triceps grazed the face of one of the defenders. Instead of Purdue going to the line to increase its lead, Villanova hit two free throws, got the ball and eventually went on to win in overtime.
Not only did that game work against it, but it was in a four-team tournament that left it playing Oregon State in the next round instead of Alabama. If that Villanova game goes differently, maybe we’re looking at a 12-6 Purdue team through the same rose-colored glasses as we just looked at Iowa. C’est la vie.
Purdue has played well at home thus far this season, but I’m guessing it’ll be a bit demoralized after what Michigan does on Thursday. Iowa, 67-61.