A losing record is never a good thing, no matter how you spin it. However, Iowa is 2-5 in conference, which is exactly where I had them 7 deep into the conference schedule. Why is this a good thing? Clearly, almost anyone paying attention to NCAA basketball would come to the conclusion that the Iowa Hawkeyes were coming into the season as a team destined to finish towards the bottom of the Big Ten (personally, I saw them around the 7th spot). The reason Iowa's 2-5 Big Ten start isn't all that bad is because of the quality of opponents Iowa has faced through the first 7 games.
First, let's look at the Big Ten RPI Rankings (conference only):
|Big Ten RPI ||Team|
|4||Michigan State |
|7||Penn State |
Second, let's calculate the SOS of each Big Ten team (conference only):
Finally, let's list out the ranking:
|Big Ten SOS ||Team|
While it's true you can't play yourself (hurting the Top teams' SOS), Wisconsin has yet to play anyone in the Top 6 of the Big Ten RPI (PSU was their toughest opponent). Indiana hasn't played anyone in the Top 5. While Iowa has played all Top 5 teams, including the #2 team twice. It also makes you wonder just how good Wisconsin and Indiana truly are, as well.
So there you have it... 2-5 isn't that bad in my book.
Iowa gets both Penn State (sans Claxton) and Northwestern twice and also gets Illinois at home. Folks, those are ABSOLUTELY winnable games for Iowa. And I am also not sold on Purdue, yet, perhaps Iowa can give them trouble on the road. Minnesota has played much better than I expected, but I think the Hawks can give them a test in the Barn.
What it comes down to is that although Iowa might only win 1 or 2 out of the next 4, they have a VERY favorable last 1/3 of the schedule. That gives me hope that Iowa could finish around the .500 mark in Big Ten play, something I thought would be impossible around the time of Jarryd Cole's injury.