Sure, sure, lots of you are hoping Iowa can do enough good this week at the Big Ten tournament to catapult itself into the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Maybe. But it’s wise to prepare for all scenarios. I learned that in my time working in the CIA. OK, I never really worked in the CIA … or did I?
Anyway, a distinct possibility for the Hawkeyes is a second-straight year of playing in the National Invitational Tournament. Some call it the NIT. I call it the Nit. That’s two less syllables. It saves wear and tear on the vocal cords.
So I went to an old favorite website called NITology.com, which originated in 2005. Before the NIT field was announced last March 11, Nitology correctly predicted 28 of the 32 teams in the Little Dance. One of the four it failed to correctly ascertain was Iowa.
However, Nitology hasn’t had any 2013 NIT projections. So I was about to come up with my own. Just kidding, again.
But I did snoop around the Internet for some. Lo and behold, I found the NIT Bracket Project.
The NIT Bracket Project has Iowa as one of its four No. 1 seeds. Which would mean home games for the Hawkeyes for up to three rounds, as long as they kept winning. Iowa’s projected first-round foe is Robert Morris, the regular-season champion of the Northeast Conference. The Colonials of Moon Township, Pa., fell in the Northeast Conference tourney. Under NCAA rules, all regular-season conference champions that don’t get into the NCAA tourney automatically get NIT berths.
Mount St. Mary’s eliminated Robert Morris from the Northeast tourney, 69-60. Rashad Whack had 26 points for Mount St. Mary’s. Yes, Rashad Whack.
OK, so if Iowa beats Robert Morris, it will play the winner of that bracket’s 4-5 game. That would be the Northern Iowa-at-Xavier game. Which would be a tough game for the Panthers, because Xavier (17-13) is a tough cookie at its Cincinnati home. The Musketeers beat Memphis 86-71 in Cincinnati in a March 9 nonconference game. Memphis is 27-4.
However, if UNI (18-14) upends Xavier, the Panthers will play Iowa in the second round. The winner would play either Southern Mississippi, Arkansas, Washington or Detroit for the right to go to the NIT’s Final Four in New York City.
And if all the No. 1 seeds prevail, the Hawkeyes will join Virginia, Mississippi and Baylor in Madison Square Garden.
But one game at a time. Iowa has to get past Robert Morris first. If it doesn’t reach the NCAAs. I knew that. I think it’s so funny you thought I didn’t know that.
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