Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of RTC. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.
Nowadays, everybody is a bracketologist and the potential list of 68 teams changes every five minutes even if there aren’t any games going on. Just because predictions are everywhere doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be because that is one of the best aspects of conference tournament weekend. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s bracket as of mid-day on March 13 has seven Big Ten teams as locks in the NCAA Tournament and the eighth team is Iowa. The Hawkeyes are in the final eight left out of the field but they control their own destiny in Chicago this weekend because if they win two games in the Big Ten Tournament including a victory over Michigan State, their stock should clearly be on the rise by Selection Sunday.
At the risk of looking ahead to the second day of the tournament, Iowa first needs to beat Northwestern on Thursday. The Wildcats have had trouble scoring against the Hawkeyes, as they scored just 50 and 51 points respectively in their games during the season. Without Drew Crawford and Jarod Swopshire in the lineup, the Wildcats don’t pose any real threat offensively, so unless Devyn Marble and his teammates come out sluggish, they should be able to win the game. It is unlikely that Fran McCaffery will tolerate a slow start in the first game of the event considering the stakes. Assuming that his team can get past Northwestern, Iowa is somewhat lucky because they play in the bottom half of the bracket because the bye teams — Ohio State and Michigan State — can be beaten with a tendency by each to sometimes slump offensively.