Maybe this week, since Iowa is now 7-2 and all alone in first place and coming off its 28-point beat down against Michigan and the fact that Iowa is now has the highest RPI (6th) from teams who play in the best league in the nation, the coaches might let Iowa just squeak in.
Speaking of the latest RPI numbers, Iowa has played the 12th toughest schedule in the nation to date. The Hawks are also 6-4 against Top 50 RPI teams and 8-5 against Top 100 RPI teams. Iowa is yet to have any ‘bad losses', something the NCAA keeps track of. For an example of a bad loss, see Penn State's win at Illinois on Saturday night. (Hopefully the selection committee will not learn about the Illini fans rushing the court in a loss, either. That has to affect your RPI somehow, right?)
Iowa has nearly done enough to secure an NCAA bid for this season, though its goals are much higher than that. But just for the sake of going along and looking at the birds that are in hand, should Iowa finish 3-4 in its seven remaining games and not win a game in the Big Ten tournament, it would be 21-10 with an RPI still somewhere in the Top 30.
As I said, this club seems destined for a better finish than that. If Iowa can 4-3 and say, 1-1 in the Big Ten tournament, it would finish the non-NCAA portion of the season with a record of 23-9. One win in the big dance would tie this year's team with the second most wins in school history. As you can see, that is doable, and an even better finish than that is foreseeable. Like we said after the win on Sunday, this group of kids is special and they are approaching the results that could etch themselves in the minds of Iowa fans for some time to come…
THE BIG TEN REPORT: Wisconsin, losers in five of its last six games, is fading fast. Two of those losses were at home and their latest loss at Purdue is cause for more concern. The Badgers are 5-4 in the league, two games behind Iowa with a trip to Iowa City set up for the last game of the regular season. If Bo Ryan is the Kirk Ferentz of the college basketball world as some people say, it's high time for his team to find its second wind if they want to win another title…
We already mentioned the Illinois loss at home against Penn State, but what made that loss more painful was that it had defeated Wisconsin on the road earlier in the week, getting a leg up on most of its Big Ten brethren. It was just the second road win at one of the league's ‘Top Seven' team's home arena this year, with Michigan State's double-overtime win at Ohio State being the other. You get a plus-one for road wins, but you get a minus one for home losses. Thus far on the year, Iowa is +2 due to its road wins at Penn State and Purdue and through being perfect at home.
This week, some games to keep an eye on are Indiana at Wisconsin on Wednesday, Ohio State at Michigan on Thursday and Illinois at Ohio State on Sunday. Iowa hits the road this week for games at Northwestern and Indiana.
JUNIOR DAY IN IOWA CITY:
Though the Class of 2006 is still fresh in our minds, the Hawkeyes are beginning their work on the Class of 2007. There will be many names that come and go, as is always the case and especially at this very early juncture, but some prospects are moving their way up Iowa's wish list already. Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa football program hosted several juniors on Saturday and one in-state prospect received a scholarship offer from the Hawkeyes.
Wide receiver Colin Sandeman of Bettendorf is that prospect, and he comes from a ‘house divided'; his mother attended Iowa while his father attended Iowa State. The 6-foot-1, 188-pound receiver ran a 4.50 second forty yard dash at the US Army Junior combine back in January where he turned a lot of heads. We'll speak to Sandeman this week and file a feature story as he is clearly one of the best, if not the best, prospects in the state of Iowa this year.
We also plan to pay Jordan Bernstine of Des Moines Lincoln a visit this week for a photo feature as well as a story on his interest in Iowa. Bernstine, a cornerback, is a player that is very much on Iowa's radar this year. Look for more reports from Iowa's recent Junior Day this week on HawkeyeNation.com.