There are two sites that, for reasons unknown to mankind, have taken an interest in NIT bracketology. (I can’t believe I just used the term “bracketology.”)
As of 3 p.m. Sunday, they didn’t differ on much. But they differ wildly when it comes to Iowa.
NIT-ology (Mike Scullin) doesn’t have the Hawkeyes listed at all, not as a projected participant in the 32-team NIT field, and not as one of 21 teams listed as next in line. Which is odd, since it had Iowa third in its best of the rest before Sunday.
Big Apple Buckets says Iowa will be a No. 5 seed, and will travel to play Akron in the first round. If his (John Templon’s) pairings came true, the Iowa-Akron winner would play the Northwestern-UT Arlington winner in Round 2, at the home of the higher seed.
Big Apple tweeted the following on Sunday:
Here’s why I have Iowa in NIT: Hawkeyes have 4 Top 25 RPI wins.
And: Iowa is also 6-6 in its Last 12 and has a Pomeroy of 89 (which technically don’t matter). They’re definitely an #NIT team.
There will be either 10 or 11 automatic qualifiers in the NIT depending if Drexel makes it into the NCAA field. Teams that win their regular-season conference titles but don’t get in the NCAA field automatically get a spot in the NIT. The NCAA owns the NIT.
After that, a panel selects the at-large teams. The NCAA specifically says this: The committee shall select the best available teams to fill the NIT field.
You can make arguments both ways. Iowa (17-16) has an RPI of 129. By contrast, Northern Iowa is No. 75. Iowa’s strength-of-schedule is the nation’s 70th-strongest. (UNI’s is 53rd.)
But as Templon notes, Iowa does have wins over Wisconsin (two), Michigan and Indiana.
Of course, the Hawkeyes also have losses to Clemson (152nd in the RPI), Nebraska (154), Penn State (156) and Campbell (206).
And is being 6-6 in the last 12 games really a selling point?
Here’s what makes me think Templon has a chance to be right, though. One, Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said Friday he was confident Iowa would get an NIT birth. I can’t imagine he would have said that if he didn’t have a reason. Two, Iowa just told the media that covers the Hawkeyes that coach Fran McCaffery will hold a teleconference at 8:45 p.m., shortly after the NIT field is announced. I wonder if Iowa would do that if it wasn’t sure it was going to the Little Dance.
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