Feb 22, 2014; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes guard Josh Oglesby (2) shoots the ball in the second half against the Wisconsin Badgers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Wisconsin beat Iowa 79-74. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa @ Minnesota: Keys To The Game

The Iowa Hawkeyes are coming off a loss last Saturday to the Wisconsin Badgers.  This is a game that will probably eat at the Hawkeyes for a little bit and you can tell just by the happenings on social media after the game.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, I am referring to Zach McCabe‘s Twitter rant telling Iowa fans to “suck a fat one” after they bashed him for air-balling the three point attempt at the end.  Iowa coach, Fran McCaffery, has now made players either delete their Twitter profiles or just stop using it entirely.

Minnesota is coming off of back-to-back losses to the Illinois Fighting Illini and the Ohio State Buckeyes.  This is a team, given where they are at right now, that is very dangerous. They currently sit at 7th in the conference, carrying a 6-9 record and have an outside shot at making the tournament if they finish well.

Iowa won the first meeting between these teams in Iowa City by a score of 94-73.  Now lets take a look at some keys to the game for both teams.

For Minnesota: 

Elliot Eliason!

This dude is a beast on the glass.  He was in foul trouble for a majority of the game in Iowa City so the Hawkeyes were able to dominate the glass the entire day.  He is the guy that protects the rim for Coach Richard Pitino.  He’ll also keep Iowa’s bigs off the glass, if he can stay out of foul trouble this time around.

Play with urgency!

Minnesota is likely playing for it’s NCAA tournament life in these last three games and then going into the Big Ten tournament.  I mentioned their 6-9 conference record and I think 9-9 will get them in, but they have difficult games to end the year with Iowa coming to town and having to visit the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.  If they finish 8-10 they’ll likely need a couple of wins in the Big Ten tournament, so this is a game they need.

For Iowa: 

Get back to focus!

With everything that went down last week with the postponed game at Indiana and the loss, and what followed it, to Wisconsin, Iowa might be losing it’s focus a little bit.  Well, there is no better place to get that focus back than on the road.  They won’t have the crowd on their side and will have to be sharp heading into this one.  They need to block out all the distractions and get back to business.

Josh Oglesby!

Oglesby killed Minnesota in the first meeting back on January 19th and he was big in the game against Wisconsin on Saturday.  With McCabe’s head a little up in the clouds, Oglesby needs to fill a void that will likely be there.  If he can continue to hit his shots, that will also open up lanes for Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White to get to the basket and likely to the free throw line.

Iowa is now playing for seeding in the Big Ten tournament and the NCAA tournament.  They need to remain focused now that winning the Big Ten title is likely out of their reach.  If they play lack-luster basketball and aren’t focused, they could lose this one and the one on Thursday against Indiana.

One final note; the Hawkeyes should have starting foward, Melsahn Basabe, back for this game after he didn’t play against Wisconsin due to illness.

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