This week brings us the 15th Big Ten men’s basketball tournament.
Iowa is the No. 8 seed. It plays No. 9 Illinois in Thursday’s session-opening game. Will the Hawkeyes have their sixth-straight first-round flameout, or will they advance in the event?
Should Iowa proceed to Friday’s quarterfinals against top-seeded Michigan State, history (as you would expect) won’t be on Iowa’s side. But there have been more upsets in that matchup than you might guess. The No. 8/No. 9 winner has beaten the No. 1 seed four times in 14 tries. The most-recent was in 2003.
The only No. 8-seed to reach the tournament final was Ohio State in 2003. The only No. 9-seed to do so was Iowa in 2002.
A No. 6-seed has reached the finals in each of the previous two years. No. 10 Illinois got to the final in 2008. There have been four 1-vs.-2 finals. That’s not a lot.
The Cyclones, who open Thursday against No. 6 Texas, can take heart in this stat: No. 3 seeds have won five of the 15 Big 12 tournaments, and finished second three times. That’s a better record than No. 2 seeds, which have three firsts and three seconds.
The last two years have seen victories by top-seeded Kansas over No. 2 seeds Kansas State and Baylor.
The No. 3 seeds are 12-3 in quarterfinals.