Hawkeye Basketball: Iowa to Michigan preview

Hawkeye Basketball: Iowa to Michigan preview

Your, my and our Iowa Hawkeyes (21-8, 11-7) return to action Thursday as they travel to Ann Arbor for the rematch with the Michigan Wolverines (16-12, 10-8).

Iowa continues to be the hottest team in the league, capping a February 7-1 with an easy 82-61 win over Northwestern on Monday night. Iowa’s February 7-1 is their best record of that month since they ran the board in February…of 1981. You can politely take the February Fade story, which has been debunked at this point anyway , and fit it.

Of course, Iowa’s only loss last month was to the Wolverines, an 84-79 loss on Feb. 17 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Michigan got a career night out of Moussa Diabate, scoring 28 points while grabbing 8 rebounds. Iowa committed 11 turnovers, which isn’t a terrible number, but most of those turnovers happened at the worst possible time and Michigan scored 18 points on those turnovers. Iowa also shot poorly from the floor and the foul line, making just 44 percent of their shots and 13–20 foul shots. Clearly, this long athletic Michigan team bothered Iowa around the rim, where Iowa missed plenty of layups and dunks. The Hawks came back late in the game due to poor rebounding and transition defense from Michigan, but that wasn’t enough as the Wolverines earned a well-deserved win for their NCAA resume.

Of course, the first game was a dividing line for both clubs. 48 hours later, Iowa exited Columbus with an impressive 75-62 victory over ohio state, giving Iowa a signature win they desperately needed themselves, and they’ve since gone on a 4-game winning streak, taking all four in double digits. 24 hours after the Iowa-Ohio State game, Michigan played Wisconsin and, well, you know what happened. Juwan Howard had his second fight with a Big Ten coach in just over a year. Slaps/punches were thrown. People were suspended. It was a bad episode for the league.

Michigan will be without Howard for the rest of the regular season, although Diabate and Terrance Williams II are back from their one-game timeouts. This could work to Michigan’s advantage – Howard didn’t cover himself in glory given the talent at his disposal (turns out replacing senior/grad transfers that go well with real freshmen is quite difficult). Phil Martelli, the former head coach of St. Joseph’s, stepped into the role of head coach. He led St. Joe’s for 24 seasons, made 7 NCAA appearances and ranked them among the top teams in the nation for a week in 2004. That team, led by Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, came within 2 points from a final. Four places, losing against Oklahoma State in the Elite Eight. He’s a steady hand and should bring some calm to the bench. They need it because Michigan is in the middle of a grueling four-game-in-seven-day streak to catch up on some games postponed earlier in the season. They already gave up the first game of this streak, losing to Illinois, but bounced back to hit state of michigan Tuesday evening.

Projected compositions

C – Hunter Dickinson (So., 7-1, 255) 18.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 55.8 FG%, 32.1 3P%
F – Moussa Diabaté (Fr., 6-11, 210) 9.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 57.4 FG%
F – Caleb Houstan (Fr., 6-8, 205) 10.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.4 apg 41.1 FG%, 37.5 3P%
G – Eli Brooks (Sr., 6-1, 185) 11.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.9 apg 44.1 FG%, 38.8 3P%
G – DeVante Jones (Sr., 6-1, 200) 10.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 4.5 apg 45.2 FG%, 32.8 3P%

(Statistics via Sports-Reference)

It’s a big front line for the Wolverines. I noticed after Minnesota’s second game that I liked the short before Keegan-Kris-Patrick and its length. This Michigan line is that front yard, only taller and just as long. We saw how they frustrated Iowa in Game 1 with length and athleticism, altering many shots around the rim. Iowa doesn’t have much of an answer for Dickinson – he had 14 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in Game 1 – although Filip Rebraca fought admirably and had 12 points and 6 rebounds against this big line . Iowa didn’t have an answer for Diabate, though – his previous record was 15 points twice, against Purdue and at Rutgers. And in the Bench Player That Gave Iowa Fits category, Kobe Bufkin scored 10 points in the first meeting. It was one point off his career high, set against Southern Utah earlier this season.

What are we going to get from Michigan?

Boiler noted that before Game 1, and I’ll ask again – what are we going to get from Michigan? Like much of the Big Ten, Michigan has had its ups and downs this year. Their ceiling can be very high, but with a young roster the floor can also be low enough to potentially miss the tournament. Since the fight in Madison, they’ve been scratching and scratching for their lives in the NCAA — they beat Rutgers comfortably without Diabate or Williams, then lost to Illinois while giving up 93 points. They then hammered Michigan State on Tuesday night, with Dickinson aiming for a career-high 33 points. Shrug. I just hope Dickinson got it out of his system on Tuesday.

They’re going to be desperate, just like they were in Iowa City, and the game means something of a Big Ten Tournament see perspective – more on that shortly. They’re still in the tournament on most bracket projections, with some having them as high as the 8/9 game, but they still have some work to do. Expect their best shot, but keep an eye on their legs as this will be their third game in five days.

Is Patrick McCaffery’s health okay?

Patrick McCaffery was ruled out for the North West game with hip pain and listed as day-to-day. It doesn’t sound serious, but he’s still day-to-day and he may not play Wolverines in a bid to get him 100% for the tournament. He had 13 points and 5 rebounds in Game 1 for the Wolverines, so a healthy Patrick would be a plus. It is now an all hands situation to see. Which…


Tuesday was a wild night in the Big Ten game. It started with… Nebraska? Yes, it starts with Nebraska. The Huskers played slightly better last week. They hung out with Iowa at Lincoln, then went on the road and beat Penn State by 23. Then the icing on the cake – a team that figured like cannon fodder the last week of the year will at Columbus and wins, 78-70. The loss dropped Ohio State to a tie for 4th with Iowa, which puts Iowa in the double bye position due to the one-on-one victory over the Buckeyes.

As that game drew to a close, Michigan-Michigan State started and the Wolverines skipped Michigan State almost right away, winning by 17. With those results in the books, there are now five teams in a game against each other for the final double bye spot – Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan State, Rutgers and Michigan. Wow. Here are the remaining schedules, plus a result generator you can play around with here:

Iowa (11-7) – 3/3 at Michigan, 3/6 at Illinois
Ohio State (11-7) – 3/3 Michigan State, 3/6 Michigan
Michigan State (10-8) – 3/3 at Ohio State, 3/6 at Maryland
Rutgers (10-8) – 3/2 at Indiana, 3/6 Penn State
Michigan (10-8) – 3/3 Iowa, 3/6 at Ohio State

Iowa has the toughest road, because of course it does. Rutgers might have the easier route, although Indiana needs wins to keep their own tournament hopes alive and that’s in Bloomington (Indiana is right behind this group, at 9-9; they close at Purdue).

[Editor’s note: Rutgers came back from down 10 to defeat Indiana in Bloomington, likely bumping the Hoosiers to the wrong side of the bubble. That also means Iowa needs to win out to secure the 4th seed OR have Rutgers fall to Penn State in their finale.]

Ohio State’s form is as high as Michigan and Michigan State – home loss to Iowa, win to Indiana, win to Illinois (!!), loss against Maryland (?) and loss against Nebraska (??). What the hell? Ohio State should be well ranked 4th, but the losses to Maryland and Nebraska are crazy and talk about it now. Michigan State and Michigan can still advance to 4th place. This is madness ! Thursday will be moving day for 4th place, anyway.

I’ll pretend the last game of the night didn’t happen, though I have to say… 15 straight wins in games decided by 6 or less, plus a conceded 3 from the wing to win the league ( more another one in bank, off balance sheet 3 a few possessions earlier. TWO BANK HITS FOR THE LAST 6 POINTS TO WIN THE LEAGUE). On the scale of Ridiculous Shots That You Can’t Believe Went In, it wasn’t quite Joe Wieskamp taking the corner 3 to beat Rutgers, but the stakes were obviously higher here. One of their players, by his own admission, called the last shot a “bullshit”. But of course, he entered! They both entered!

At some point, the pact with the devil comes to an end, doesn’t it? LAW???