Teams like the Iowa Hawkeyes are fighting for their tournaments lives this time of year, and a loss to Big Ten rival Minnesota on Sunday would have been devastating to the Hawks’ tournament hopes. But Iowa prevailed on its home court in convincing fashion 72-51, and will live to play another day.
The Hawkeyes are getting hot at the right time. They’ve now won three games in row, and stand at 6-7 in the B1G, and 17-9 overall. Breaking even in conference play is a must, and the 20-win mark never looks bad. However, the Hawks only have two wins over top 50 RPI teams. This is the glaring weakness in their tournament resume, and in this year’s Big Ten, the Hawkeyes need a signature victory. They’ll have their chance in Bloomington in a couple weeks.
Coming down the stretch, there isn’t any room for error. While the Hawkeyes don’t have to win out, they need to at least win three games to give themselves a shot. If somehow they could run the table, which includes that date at Indiana, the Hawks would no doubt be in. If they go 4-1, with a good showing in the B1G tournament, I think they also get in.
In meantime though, the formula is simple – one game at a time. Just win, and take care of business. Iowa has a favorable schedule down the stretch, facing four teams in the bottom quarter of the conference standings.
This young Iowa team has come a long way this season. It’s been a bumpy road filled with late-game meltdowns and games that should have been won, but the ultimate goal is still attainable. Fans will no doubt see if the program has finally taken the next step after these final five games.