Dec 13, 2013; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes guard Mike Gesell (10) drives to the basket against the Iowa State Cycloness at James H. Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State beat Iowa 85-82. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern @ Iowa: Keys To The Game

After a tough road game at Wisconsin, the Iowa Hawkeyes will come back to Carver Hawkeye Arena to take on a struggling Northwestern (7-8, 0-2) team.  This game will come after the Fran McCaffery blow up and Iowa will play this game without their head coach.  Luckily for Iowa, they won’t have to take on too tough of a task without Fran as Northwestern hasn’t been very good at all this year.

However, this is still the Big Ten.  So, lets look at some keys to the game.

For Northwestern: 

Shoot better!

The Wildcats have got to start shooting the ball better if they want to win any Big Ten games.  They are currently shooting just 41% from the field as a team, which is good for 317th in the country.  It starts with shot selection.  They have some guys that are pretty good basketball players, but due to some poor decision making, they aren’t getting the shot they want every time down the court.  For this game, they need to work it into their big post man, Alex Olah, and let him go to work on the shaky Adam Woodbury.

Rebound the basketball!

The Wildcats are 7-8 on the year.  In 6 of their 7 wins the Wildcats have won the rebounding battle.  However, they’ve lost 8 games and in those 8 they’ve lost the rebounding battle in every single one.  If Northwestern stands a chance in this one they’ve got to rebound, Iowa is currently 3rd in the country in rebounds per game.

For Iowa: 

Get back to balance!

Iowa prides itself on being a balanced ball team.  Well, that didn’t show on Sunday.  Devyn Marble took 24 shots on the night and with a team that went 10 players deep, there is no reason for that number to be so high.  I need more shots from Aaron White and Jarrod Uthoff.  White had just 6 shots in the game against Wisconsin and Uthoff just 4.  Melsahn Basabe needs more touches too.  Marble has to understand that he doesn’t have to do it all every single time down the court.

Focus without Fran!

It’s never easy to play without your head coach on the bench, especially someone as fiery and passionate as McCaffery.  Luckily for Iowa, Fran has assembled a great coaching staff and they know what he wants his team to do.  The Hawkeyes need to focus on the game plan and play within themselves.  They’re back at home and will have the crowd on their side.  All they need to do now is execute.

Bottom line, this game favors the Hawkeyes, obviously.  Northwestern just isn’t a very good ball team and they’ll struggle with the length, depth, and talent of Iowa.  I fully expect the Hawkeyes to get back on the winning track on Thursday.  One thing they can’t do is get caught looking ahead to this Sunday against the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Stay tuned.

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