The first being that Iowa will play Ohio State for the Big Ten Tournament title on Sunday. It's the #1 seed against the #2 seed; the teams that finished first and second in the Big Ten meet for the league's second title.
Iowa beat Ohio State during the regular season and finished just one game behind them in the league standings. Should Iowa beat Ohio State for a second time, and I am trying to be objective here, it will be interesting to view the teams seeds come Sunday night around 6pm.
Ohio State played the fourth toughest non-conference schedule in the nation, where Iowa's non-league slate was closer to 50. That probably is the difference maker in the eyes of the selection committee,
However, Iowa has 10 wins against Top 50 rated RPI teams, compared to seven for Ohio State. Those 10 wins for Iowa ranks second in the nation behind UConn's 10, with a few other teams having nine wins against RPI top 50 foes. That number would be 11 should Iowa beat Ohio State.
Iowa has an impressive resume of their own and I think one could argue that it's just as impressive as Ohio State's.
If Iowa does beat the Buckeyes come Sunday, does that one extra win in league play mean the difference between one or two seeding points? I am sure that I am not leaving all of my bias out of this, but I don't think that it should.
It still comes down to this; Iowa is a blown late lead against Northwestern away from a regular season league title and a two-seed in the Big Dance.
Speaking of seeding, Iowa figures to be no worse than a four seed in the NCAA tourney. The only other times in school history where Iowa had a better seed than a four was when they were a three in 1981 and a two in 1987. Iowa lost in the opening round to Wichita State in 1981 and advanced to the Elite Eight in 1987.
Iowa has been a four seed three times in its history, losing its first game in 1979 and winning one then bowing out in 1989 and 1993.
Steve Alford on seeding, in the Michigan State post game press conference: "We've had 9 wins against the top 25. Only UCONN can boast that. Having 9 wins and only 4 losses against top 25 is a pretty special season in itself. We've done that, now we're in the championship game of the 2nd championship in the best league in the country. I would hope that just because of timing, I hope that that's still an open-ended question going in. We win a championship tomorrow and we get this thing to 25-8 and finish 2nd in league play, 1 game out, and win the tournament. I would think we could possibly move up a seed. I think there could be a lot of bearing tomorrow, unless they want to go ahead and give us a better seed prior to the game. That's something we'd take as well. I think we're going to have a very good seed. I think we've done some very good things and I'll be shocked if we don't have a very good seed going into the NCAA Tournament."
With a record of 24-8, this year's Iowa teams joins some elite company. Iowa has won 24 or more games in a season just twice in school history. They went 30-5 in 1987 then followed that season up with a record of 24-10 in 1988. One more win and Steve Alford's seventh Iowa team is all alone in second place.
We are witnessing one of the best defensive efforts of the modern era of Iowa basketball history. We are witnessing one of the best winning percentage seasons since Lute Olsen was in Iowa City Three of Alford's seven seasons have seen his clubs advance to the title game of the Big Ten tournament. Iowa has beaten Michigan State in three of its last four meetings.
THREE POINT SHOOTING WOES
This year's Big Ten tourney has not been a shooting clinic from beyond the arc. Here is how the games have gone from three point land:
NW 7-31 .226
PSU 6-18 .333
MICH 4-22, .182
MINN 2-10 .200
MSU 3-8, .375
PUR 2-11, .182
OSU 10-30 .333
PSU 3-17 .176
IND 6-19 .315
WIS 2-17 .117
IOW 8-16 .500
>MIN 2-16 .125
ILL 6-18 .333
MSU 3-10 .300
OSU 5-27 .185
IND 5-22 .227
IOW 2-10 .200
MSU 7-23 .304
That's 83-325 for all games, a percentage of just .255. I know this mind sound crazy given Ohio State's three-point shooting during the year, but it might not be a bad idea to play some zone against them and focus on taking away Terence Dials.
BILLY PACKER WATCH
Maybe it's just me, but it's so very hard to stomach games that are called by Billy Packer.
Today's gem was his suggesting that Iowa press Michigan State because they looked tired.
Clearly, Billy has not done much film work of Iowa's games this year, nor does he have much knowledge of their personnel. Iowa has rarely pressed teams this year and they are not very suited to press teams. And in his style, Packer would not let off of his genius suggestion.
His repeated claims of how tired Michigan State was became very annoying as well. It's a conference tournament, Billy. That's how it goes.
Jeff Horner deserves some recognition. He guarded Shannon Brown for the most part on the day, and Brown went 3-16 from the floor for just eight points. That is some great work by Horner holding down probably the best NBA caliber player in the league to a poor game. Brown played 36 minutes and Horner played the full 40. That is back to back games where Horner did not get one minute of rest.
I asked the Iowa Sports Information Department if it had records on the most minutes played by an Iowa player for their careers, and they did not have those stats. But I would be willing to bet that no one has played more minutes in an Iowa uniform than Jeff Horner.
TOM IZZO POST GAME
On the team's fatigue:
"Fatigue had zero to do with the loss. We did not do a good job of handling our lead in that situation. We took more threes in this game than in the last two combined. I think you've got to give Iowa credit, they played pretty good defense. You hold them to 36 percent, 20 (percent) from the three and outrebound them by five, but then two things reared their ugly heads. We did not handle time and possession and turnovers very well. I think you have to give them credit, they hopped in there. It was an ugly game. I thought we had some looks in the first half, but they didn't fall. Our team prepared unbelievably well last night and this morning. We took away some of their specialty lobs and things. I did not think we showed any fatigue in the huddles. We just did not get the job done offensively."
On Iowa's defense:
"I think we did a poor, poor job of handling. We talk all the time about handling situations when you get down six or eight and when you get up six or eight. It's really a critical time."
"We missed three quick shots after getting it in and getting it out, and then we just started forcing shots, and that was disappointing. We had some open looks but there are just some things we have to do a better job of. I take nothing away from Iowa. They've been a good defensive team all year. They did a great job defensively, and then in the second half they really clamped down. But our execution offensively was as poor as I've seen it."