Michigan State, Iowa out to bolster NCAA Tournament hopes
Both Michigan State and Iowa have a healthy amount of Quad 1 wins, look to be in great shape for at-large NCAA Tournament berths and are all but out of the race for the Big Ten regular-season title.
At first blush, it appears there's little on the line between the teams on Saturday afternoon in Iowa City, Iowa. Looking deeper, however, that isn't the case.
Michigan State (17-10, 9-7 Big Ten) and Iowa (17-11, 9-8) each need one more win to clinch at least a .500 record in conference play, which is usually a good barometer to be safely considered for an NCAA bid.
There is also the matter of seeding for the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments, so another quality win would enhance each team's resume.
Michigan State enters coming off one of its best performances of the season, an 80-65 home win over No. 17 Indiana on Tuesday.
The Spartans, who have seven Quad 1 victories, already have one win over the Hawkeyes this season after pulling out a 63-61 victory in East Lansing on Jan. 26.
"Unfortunately, we're not playing them here," Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. "We're playing them there. They've averaged 88 points a game there. We know we've got our work cut out. I think they play better defense than their stats."
To Izzo's point, Iowa will be overjoyed to return home, given it is coming off two subpar shooting performances in back-to-back road losses.
The Hawkeyes went 3-for-24 from 3-point range in an 80-60 defeat at Northwestern on Sunday, then went 3-for-28 from behind the arc in a 64-52 loss at Wisconsin on Wednesday.
Despite the recent setbacks, Iowa still has six Quad 1 wins to hang its hat on.
"We just have to pick each other up," Hawkeyes junior Kris Murray said. "We can't put our heads down. We just have to get back home on Saturday and hopefully get our shot back. We just have to get guys in a rhythm and get more comfortable."
--Field Level Media
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