The Big Ten conference kicked off with thrilling wins for Illinois (51-49) and Nebraska (57-55), but the game with NCAA implications was Iowa’s blowout of Northwestern. Breitbart Sports has seven Big Ten teams as “locks” for the tournament, and only the Hawkeyes’ 5-9 record away from home keeps them from being the eighth heading into Friday’s game against Michigan State.
Iowa has just missed breakthrough wins away from home 65-62 in overtime at Purdue, 74-70 in double overtime at Wisconsin and 64-60 at Nebraska. But losses by 16 at the ACC’s last place team (Virginia Tech) and double digits on a neutral court could keep Iowa out unless they can get a signature win, which they now have a chance of on Friday against Michigan State.
On the plus side, Iowa is the 30th best team in the country at www.kenpom.com and has won eight of 10 down the stretch, so Devyn Marble’s 23 points Thursday gives them a chance to jump ahead from their current Middle 20 ranking of 16th.
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