This Wednesday the Iowa Hawkeyes will play what I think is their biggest game of the year to date. I’ll listen to the Ohio State game arguments, but this one means more for Iowa. Before Ohio State they were on the edge of busting through, then they beat Ohio State, which gets everyones attention. Then they demolish the Gophers in the second half last Sunday.
All this caused them to jump into the top 10 in the country. Well, Michigan has been playing good ball recently too, they’ve rattled off 7 straight victories and are 5-0 in the Big Ten conference. That caused them to jump to #21 in the polls.
Michigan has losses to Arizona, Duke, Charlotte, and Iowa State. They had to play Iowa State in Ames and Duke at Cameron Indoor. Both of those places are not easy to play in as a visitor. Then their losses to Arizona and Charlotte were both by two points.
The Wolverines haven’t had the toughest schedule to open up the Big Ten, but they have impressive wins at Minnesota (Ohio State just got bounced out of there) and at Wisconsin. And everyone knows how tough the Kohl Center is. They are also doing most of this without Mitch McGary, their talented center.
Lets look at some keys to the game on Wednesday.
Rebound the ball!
I hate to sound like a broken record with this one, but the Hawkeyes are one of the best rebounding teams in the country and Michigan is playing without their best big man. Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford are going to be huge in this game if Michigan wants to win the game. They can’t let guys like Gabe Olaseni, who had 6 offensive rebounds in the win against Minnesota, get easy boards on the offensive glass because it’ll usually turn into points.
Balance between main scorers!
Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson, and Caris LeVert are Michigan’s go to guys when it comes time to score the rock. LeVert and Robinson have had some games where they’ve been inconsistent and watched their scoring numbers slip into single digits. That can’t happen against Iowa. They need all three of these guys to score 15+ points because the Hawkeyes are 5th in points per game in the country.
Take and make the three!
Michigan has guys that can stroke it from behind the arc. Stauskas, Spike Albrecht, and LeVert are all good shooters. Stauskas and Albrecht each shoot 44% from behind the arc. Michigan will make threes so what Iowa has to do is try to match it as best they can. Another 5-7 day from Josh Oglesby would be nice and seeing Zach McCabe bury a few would be good for the Hawkeyes. Iowa will need 7+ threes in this one.
Use depth to advantage!
Run, run, run. Four guys for Michigan will play big minutes. We’re talking 35+ minutes. Iowa doesn’t really have that problem. With Michigan a little depleted without McGary, that hurts them a little bit with catching their breath and recovering. Iowa needs to be flying up and down the court and they need to be very active on the defensive side. Being able to go 11 guys deep compared to Michigan’s 8 will help Iowa.
This one, like most Big Ten games, promises to be entertaining. It’s always tough to win on the road in this conference so the Hawkeyes will have to bring it. The Crisler Center will be rocking.