WASHINGTON — Now the long, cruel wait for the Iowa Hawkeyes begins.
Iowa had a chance to bolster its postseason résumé this week at the 2017 Big Ten Tournament. Instead the Hawkeyes got blitzed 95-73 by Indiana in their opening game Thursday at the Verizon Center. The next two days will be long and full of time to rue missed opportunities before the NCAA Selection Committee announces its field of 68 teams on Sunday.
“We’ll see how things play out,” Nicholas Bear said. “Unfortunately we’re not able to control anything else. It’s kind of out of our control. But we’ll see where it goes. You never know. It’s March. Crazy things happen.”
The loss drops Iowa to 18-14. The Hawkeyes began Thursday at No. 70 in the RPI and the general consensus, even in the locker room, was there needed to be more wins added to the résumé.
Iowa was one the first four teams out on the Bracket Matrix, a compilation of more than 100 bracketologists from around the country. The Hawkeyes were in the field as of Thursday morning for 22 of the 117 brackets tracked.
“We knew we needed to get a win here,” Jordan Bohannon said. “The way things are shaping up, I don’t know if we’re going to be able to slide into the NCAA Tournament. Either way, we’re going to have a postseason tournament to play in. We have to be happy either way, because we’re going to be playing in the postseason and not many teams get to say that.”
If there is any fleeting hope for the Hawkeyes, it lies with their five wins against top-50 teams in the RPI and the collective failures of similar bubble teams this week. Iowa has road wins at Wisconsin and Maryland, plus home victories against Iowa State, Purdue and Michigan.
The Hawkeyes need to root for archrival Iowa State to win the Big 12 tournament. That would help. They need to root for Wisconsin and Maryland to reach Saturday of this tournament. That might help.
It would also help if other bubble teams keep losing. Illinois lost earlier in the day. Syracuse and Wake Forest lost Wednesday at the ACC Tournament. The Hawkeyes need Vanderbilt to lose Friday to Florida. They need Kansas State to lose Thursday night to Baylor.
Xavier probably saved its NCAA bid by beating Butler at the Big East Tournament on Thursday after a bad slump near the end of the regular season. Creighton could help the Hawkeyes’ case by beating Providence.
It’s a lot of what ifs and maybes. That’s life as an NCAA bubble team this weekend.
“I believe so,” Cordell Pemsl said when asked if Iowa deserves to be in the Big Dance. “When you look at our résumé, we’ve got good wins against ranked teams on the road and ranked teams at home. One goal right now was to make it there and we basically needed a win tonight, but we’re also hoping that maybe they still give us that opportunity.”
Added Bohannon: “I’d like to say so, but there are so many teams in the country that are trying to say the same thing. We’ve been playing really good basketball lately with that four-game winning streak. We had some huge road wins at Maryland and Wisconsin. Hopefully the committee sees that we are capable of beating those teams. Everyone in here thinks we can be a good NCAA Tournament team, but we have to see how it shakes out.”