Sowing those basketball seeds


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Barring a complete collapse, the Iowa men’s basketball team will suit up when the Big Dance kicks off in March. Where the Hawkeyes will play and what seed they’ll have, however, is more of an unknown.

Looking back at this time of the season last year, three teams’ résumés stand out as being similar to Iowa’s at this point: Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and Arizona.

Below is a comparison of those teams’ résumés with Iowa’s in 2013-14. The aim is to use those comparisons to better predict where Iowa will be seeded.

A lot can still happen between now and Selection Sunday in roughly six weeks. And conference tournaments have an immeasurable, yet significant effect on how teams are seeded.

But with a fairly large sample at hand, estimating Iowa’s eventual seed is a lot less difficult than some may believe.

(Note: Iowa’s current résumé: 17-6 record, No. 17 in AP Poll, 22.28 Simple Rating System score on College Basketball Referencea rating that takes into account point differential and strength of schedule)

Oklahoma State — On Feb. 6, 2013: 16-6 record, No. 22 in AP Poll. Final SRS: 15.57. Eventual seed: 5

Arguably the résumé that most resembles Iowa’s, Oklahoma State was ranked in the 13-22 range from this point until season’s end a year ago.

The Cowboys finished 2013 third in the Big 12 and reached the semifinals of its conference tournament but was ousted by Oregon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Iowa should push itself to earn a 4 seed, knowing the 5 has been a famous upset victim to 12 seeds.
In NCAA Tournament history, the 5 seed beats the 12 just 67 percent of the time, compared with the 79 percent rate of 4 seeds advancing past 13’s. 

Kansas State — On Feb. 6, 2013: 18-4 record, No. 13 in AP Poll. Final SRS: 13.53. Eventual seed: 4

In Bruce Weber’s first year as Kansas State’s head coach, the Wildcats cruised to a 27-8 record and earned a 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

It appears the Wildcats finished with a better record than Iowa will this season. But the team’s Simple Rating score was significantly lower than Iowa’s because the Hawkeyes haven’t lost by a wide margin or to weak opponents.

Iowa’s Simple Rating score will most likely regress the rest of the season because of the strength of its remaining opponents. And, the team’s lack of success in close games may hamper its Big Ten title hopes.

At this point, a 4 seed appears to be the ceiling for Iowa.

Arizona — On Feb. 6, 2013: 20-2, No. 7 in AP Poll. Final SRS: 17.30. Eventual Seed: 6

If you look at this résumé, it doesn’t seem to resemble Iowa’s at all, minus the Simple Rating score. The caveat here is that Arizona’s final résumé is eerily similar to what fans and followers of the program should expect of the Black and Gold’s at season’s end.

Arizona got off to a great start last season, as shown by its 20-2 record and top 10 ranking at this point. But losses down the stretch forced the Wildcats down the rankings and they finished at No. 21.

If Iowa continues to drop games at its current rate in the Big Ten, it could play itself into a 6 seed, much like Arizona did a year ago.

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