The Iowa Hawkeyes are firmly installed on the NCAA tournament bubble, and they know every square inch of its surface by now so as not to burst through before Selection Sunday.
They continued their best effort at climbing off into the field of 68 with a 73-59 win over the 11th-seeded Northwestern Wildcats in the first round of the Big Ten tournament Thursday.
Iowa is now 21-11 and will have a shot at a signature win Friday — that signature win you always hear about this time of year — when it faces the Michigan State Spartans in the quarterfinals at 9 p.m. ET.
Northwestern, which finished its season with a 13-19 record and will have to wait another year for a shot at its first-ever NCAA tournament berth, didn't score a point for the game's first seven minutes. At that point the Hawkeyes had taken an 11-0 lead. Iowa led by as many as 18 points in the first half.
Roy Devyn Marble led the Hawkeyes with 19 points.