Iowa vs Iowa State by the numbers.

IOWA CITY, IA- DECEMBER 08: Guard Matt Thomas
IOWA CITY, IA- DECEMBER 08: Guard Matt Thomas /

Iowa heads to Aimes tonight to take on their bitter in-state rival. Will the Hawkeyes be driving back to Iowa City tonight elated or deflated? A deeper look into the numbers might help us find out.

I detailed Iowa’s early struggles here, but Iowa State has had a bumpy start of their own.

The Cyclones, who in fairness have developed a better, stronger program than Iowa has dating back to the Fred Hoiberg era, don’t seem to be hitting any sort of panic button with a 5-2 record and the number 16 strength of schedule in the country. That looks all well and good on the surface, but there are holes to poke in their early resume.

They opened up the season with a 15 point loss to Missouri, whose star freshman Michael Porter Jr. hardly played due to a season ending back injury he suffered in the early minutes. They then got blown out at home vs UW-Milwaukee, and followed that up with two narrow wins over Appalachian State and Tulsa. They’ve had a few bounce back wins at home against mid-major cupcakes, but if UW-Milwaukee and Appalachian State can play with the Cyclones, so can Iowa.

One thing Iowa has done well is rebound offensively, ranking 46th in the country in rebounds per game. That bodes well for the Hawkeyes as Iowa State is 143rd in the country in opponents rebounds per game. And while Iowa has been torn apart on the defensive boards, ranking 183rd in the nation in opponents rebounds per game, Iowa State is an abysmal offensive rebounding team, ranking all the way down at 226 in the country in offensive rebounds per contest.

If Iowa can control the boards, they can control the pace, which will be key in order to silence the always raucous Hilton crowd. The biggest obstacle standing in Iowa’s way? Themselves.

You can’t rebound if the other team doesn’t miss, and Iowa has done a pretty poor job in making teams miss. They rank 177th in the country in opponents 3-point FG% and 201st in scoring defense. Iowa State shoots just about 38% from deep, but rank only 112th in the nation in points per game at 76.9.

If Iowa can run the Cyclones off the 3-point line, then they have the advantage in the rebounding game and scoring department. Iowa is shooting the ball from deep at a 40% clip, but players like Jack Nunge and Nicholas Baer need to compliment sharpshooter Jordan Bohannon to keep the defense honest in order to open up driving lanes for Isaiah Moss and Tyler Cook.

With the way the first nine games have gone, I wouldn’t expect the Hawkeyes to come out victorious tonight. But after glancing at the numbers, I’m a lot more hopeful than I was 24 hours ago.