By Dallas Jones
CHICAGO, Illinois – To say this season for the Iowa Hawkeyes has been a rollercoaster may be an understatement. At times the Hawkeyes have looked like one of the best teams in the conference.
Now they have lost consecutive games to teams that finished in the bottom four of the league. Here are my takeaways from the game today in Chicago and what to expect as we look to selection Sunday:
Ice cold from three: In the second half of Sunday’s game against Nebraska Iowa was ice cold. They went just 11-37 (29.7%) from the field, 3-16 (18.8%) from three, and 9-15 (60%) from the line.
As the top scoring team in the conference, you would assume water would find it’s level and Iowa would bounce back on that side of the court this afternoon.
They came out very physical and executed their offense well as they shot 13-26 (50%) from the field, but the three back continued to struggle to fall as they were just 2-10 (20%) at the break and finished 4-17 (23.5%) overall.
Iowa’s Kris Murray and the McCaffery brothers shot just 3-14 (21.4%) from deep. Many of those looks open and in rhythm.
Another one of the Hawkeyes best shooters is Payton Sandfort, who had two very questionable fouls called on him in the first half that limited him to just four minutes.
The Buckeye defense also made sure to stick close to his side in the second half as Sandfort finished the game without even attempting a three in 15 minutes of gameplay.
If the Hawkeyes are going to make noise in the NCAA tournament, those looks are going to have to drop.
Rebraca shines: One of the bright spots in today’s game was the dominance inside of Filip Rebraca. He scored the very first basket of the game for the Hawkeyes and did not slow down.
He scored ten points on 5-7 (71%) shooting for the Hawkeyes, accounting for over a third of their points.
The block 🔥
The pass 🔥
The dunk 🔥
The stare 🔥
— Iowa Men’s Basketball (@IowaHoops) March 9, 2023
That momentum carried over into the second half as matched his first half mark, finishing with 20 points on 7-12 (58%) from the field and seven rebounds.
Rebraca, along with Tony Perkins (16) and Kris Murray (17), accounted for 53 out of the 69 points for the Hawkeyes. This is the second game in a row that Iowa has only had three players reach double digits.
They have shown when the ball is moving and everyone gets involved, good things happen. The time is now to get that going in the NCAA tourney or this season may end on a sour note.
Could not pull away: In true Big Ten fashion, this game was back and forth the entire way. The biggest lead by either team was six (Ohio State) and the Hawkeyes biggest lead was five in the first half.
Every time the Hawkeyes thought they had the momentum, the Buckeyes punched back.
On six different occasions in the second half the Hawkeyes took at least a three point lead and not once did they extend it to five.
Iowa now has only made three field goals in the final six minutes of both games combined. Only scoring eight points in the final five minutes after taking a 59-57 lead this afternoon.
The final sequence also included this wild play that caused some confusion and uproar from Iowa fans all around:
Iowa and Ohio State just played hot potato on a basketball court.
The beautiful game. pic.twitter.com/mlKKS9EwVL
— Ben Stevens (@BenScottStevens) March 9, 2023
Where do they go from here: Now the question is, where will the Hawkeyes be seeded? Just as recently as last week the Hawkeyes were in the six seed comfortably.
After Sunday’s loss, many saw Iowa as a strong eight seed with one of the better quadrant one win rankings in the country. The downside to their resume is the bad losses.
Five losses to the bottom of the Big Ten (Wisconsin x2, Nebraska, Ohio State x2) and the abysmal Eastern Illinois loss with a couple guys out could see the Hawkeyes slide into the tenth seed.
The bright side if Iowa does slide, they would avoid having to face one of the juggernauts (presumably one Purdue, Kansas, Alabama, Houston, or UCLA) in the second round.
These are all assumptions and the committee that places these teams is very hard to predict. My personal opinion is that the committee ways the wins heavier than the losses and the Hawkeyes find themselves in the 8/9 matchup.
Here is the full breakdown of the NCAA tournament dates and locations.
The men’s NCAA bracket and field will be revealed during the selection show at 6 p.m. ET on CBS. Greg Gumbel hosts from New York joined by Clark Kellogg, Jay Wright and Seth Davis.
NCAA DI Men’s Basketball Committee Chair Chris Reynolds will be interviewed live. The selection show will stream on NCAA March Madness Live. The March Madness Live app is available for iOS and Android devices.