Things seemed pretty much cut and dried when we all woke up on Sunday; Illinois beats Ohio State in Columbus on Saturday, Iowa is the #6 seed in the Big Ten tournament and they would face #11 Penn State on Thursday in a pretty much guaranteed win.
That's why they play the games.
Ohio State hit a three with 05.1 seconds to play to edge previously unbeaten and top-ranked Illinois by one point.
The upset knocks Iowa down to a less advantageous #7 seed where it will face Purdue at 1:30p.m. central on Thursday (ESPN). Should Iowa beat the Boilermakers, it would face #2 seed Michigan State at 5:40p.m. on Friday (ESPN Plus).
Purdue and Iowa split a pair of games this year with Purdue winning the most recent game in West Lafayette. Iowa beat Purdue when Pierre Pierce was a member of the team.
This time around, Purdue is going to be without the league's second leading scorer and biggest threat to Iowa, Carl Landry. Landry tore a ligament in his knee last week. Landry had 29 points and seven rebounds in Purdue's 66-63 win against Iowa on February 16th.
The Boilermakers do not have anyone that can fill the shoes of the 6-foot-7, 235-pound versatile post player, making Iowa's draw in the first round fortuitous.
However, dropping to the seventh seed versus the six means a potential second round game against Michigan State as opposed to Wisconsin.
Neither opponent would be easy for Iowa, but Michigan State is a team loaded with stellar athletes and McDonald's All-Americans, plus they have one of the best post players in the Big Ten in Paul Davis.
Then again, Wisconsin's Mike Wilkinson might be the most underrated player in the nation, so take your pick.
MSU is #2 in the Big Ten in scoring offense, scoring defense and scoring margin. They lead the league in free throw percentage, field goal percentage and rebounding margin.
They are 10th in the league in three-point percentage.
Michigan State topped Iowa 75-64 in their lone meeting this year in Iowa City. It was Iowa's first game without Pierre Pierce. Michigan State led by as many as 22 points in the second half before Iowa pulled to within three points late in the contest.
Iowa was just –4 on the boards that day and committed just eight turnovers and made 32 of 42 from the line. But the Spartans held Iowa to a season low .288 from the floor on the game, including just 2-15 from three.
Should Iowa get past Purdue, it's going to be a tall task to cut down the Spartans.
But Iowa was going to have to play their way into the tournament no matter what, as they likely needed at least three wins to gain NCAA consideration.
Ohio State's win against Illinois will improve Iowa's RPI rating and it certainly goes into the quality win category now, Iowa's first such win without Pierre Pierce.
The Hawkeyes will have to beat Purdue and Michigan State, at the least, to be in serious discussions for an NCAA bid.
Before Sunday's games, Iowa had climbed to #51 in the RPI with a weighted average of 43.5 when the new and old RPI formulas were combined. Iowa ranked 29th in the Sagarin computer poll on Sunday morning, with the 24th most difficult schedule in the nation. Iowa is 5-5 over its last 10 games and if they beat Purdue and lose to Michigan State, they would still be 5-5 over their last 10.
Michigan State's last game was on Saturday in a 90-64 blowout of Penn State.