We need this game tonight. Yes, the Hawkeyes are playing some pretty solid basketball at the moment, but they still have an RPI in the 100s. As far as I am concerned, they can continue their rampage of upsets starting tomorrow after we secure our second win against them and can bask in their RPI-building crusade.
Another we need this game is that our schedule gets pretty damn brutal over the next several games. Currently, nine Big Ten teams sit in the top 50 of the RPI, with us at the bottom of that pile. We don't get another sub-50 RPI team until February 22nd when we host Nebraska, and that is one of just two (the home finale against Penn State being the other) games left against sub-50 teams. By my math, we're going to need to win at least four of those remaining 10 Top-50 games to feel totally safe on Selection Sunday, in addition to the three remaining sub-100 gmaes against Iowa, Nebraska, and Penn State.
That would put us at 20-11, 10-8 in Big Ten play before the Big Ten Tournament, which would have to make us feel safe. As we learned at Penn State though, nothing is going to be easy.
The key to all that is holding serve at home. We've already stumbled once, so not again. It begins tonight.