The Iowa Hawkeyes (5-0) will now face their toughest test yet at a neutral site during the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Iowa drew the Xavier Musketeers (5-0) in the first round of action.
This game is key for a couple of reasons. A win can boost a non-conference strength of schedule (SOS) that is, quite frankly, pathetic. A win can also lead to more games that could boost the Hawkeyes’ non-conference SOS with games against Kansas possibly taking place.
But, a loss to Xavier is the worst thing that can happen for the Hawkeyes. A loss in the first round most likely means that no more important games will be played for Iowa during the weekend. So, now that we know the stakes, lets take a look at some keys for each team.
Iowa hasn’t been great shooting the ball this year as they have had games where they have struggled from the field and behind the arc. The most notable game is the game against Nebraska-Omaha where they shot 38% and point guard Devyn Marble went just 2-13. Marble has to shoot well for this team to beat good teams. There can be no let downs.
Turn Xavier Over!!
Iowa has done a good job so far this year of turning their opponents over and then, in turn, scoring buckets down at the other end. Iowa is turning opponents over at a rate of about 18 per game which is a number that needs to be maintained.
Make Free Throws!!
Xavier has been pitiful from the foul line so far through their first 5 games as they are shooting just 60% as a team to this point. With the new hand check rule in place this year teams are going to have to make free throws and if you aren’t doing that, especially against a team like Iowa that gets to the line and makes their free throws, you’ll have a tough time.
Get Semaj Christon going!!
He’s a dynamic guard that can score the basketball and pass it. He’s the guy that makes them go, but if he isn’t clicking on all cylinders Xavier might have a tough time competing with a fairly deep Iowa team. Christon is averaging 16 points and 5 assists per game this year.
Well, now that we know what each team needs to do to help them earn a victory, we just have to leave it up to what they do out on the court. Tip-off for tonight is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CT.