The Iowa basketball faces its toughest remaining home matchup tomorrow when the #24 Maryland Terrapins comes to Carver Hawkeye Arena.
The last two weeks has been pretty spectacular for the Iowa basketball team. First, the Hawks upset a top-ten Michigan team, then knocked off Indiana at Assembly Hall before making an improbable comeback at home against Northwestern. Then, this Saturday, down one with three seconds left against Rutgers, Joe Wieskamp knocked down a ridiculous buzzer-beating three to win the game on the road.
With a four-game winning streak under their belts, the Iowa basketball team now turns their attention to #24 Maryland as the Terrapins come to Carver Hawkeye Arena tomorrow night.
Maryland is fresh off a double-digit loss to Michigan on the road, and has another tough road test against the #21 ranked Iowa basketball team.
Maryland is currently 19-7 and 10-4 in the Big Ten Conference, which puts them in fourth place. The Iowa basketball team, meanwhile, is just one game behind the Terrapins in Big Ten Conference play with a 9-5 record so this game has some big implications. If the Hawks win, they would be in fourth place, which would give them a double-bye in the Big Ten Conference tournament.
Needless to say, but this game has some big implications.
The Terrapins, led by point guard Anthony Cowen Jr, bring a strong two-way game to Carver. Cowen, the team’s leading scorer with 15.8 points per game, is dishing out 4.5 assists per game (also a team high) while his sophomore teammate Bruno Fernando does the dirty work on the glass hauling in 10.6 boards per game while also scoring 14.5 points per game at an extremely efficient clip of 66% (which leads the Big Ten). To round out Maryland’s top trio is five-star power forward Jalen Smith who is averaging 11.8 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game.
While Cowen scores a lot of points, he is pretty inefficient, shooting just 39% from the field this season. That doesn’t exactly strike fear in me as he matches up with Jordan Bohannon throughout the night. Maryland’s two big men, however, will put the Hawkeye’s dynamic front court duo of Tyler Cook and Luka Garza on high alert especially considering Garza’s inability to stay off the bench due to foul trouble as of late.
Defensively, the Terrapins bring the same intensity. They are allowing just 64.6 points per game, which is good for 29th in the nation, and according to KenPom, their defensive adjusted efficiency margin is 21st overall. That being said, we’ve seen the Iowa basketball team be able to score on basically anybody in the country with relative easy. Furthermore, Maryland has a few things working against them.
First, they are one of the most inexperienced teams in the nation. Their top six players are composed of one junior, two sophomores, and three freshman. Going on the road in a hostile environment can be tough for a young team.
Second, while Maryland varies up their defense pretty consistently throughout the game (much like Fran McCaffery), they aren’t able to put my pressure on opposing team’s offenses resulting in a low amount of turnovers (according to KenPom they are literally the worst team in the nation in defensive turnover percentage).
Lastly, as we have seen, the Iowa basketball team likes to attack the basket and get teams in foul trouble. Head coach Mark Turgeon isn’t a big fan of giving his players minutes when they get into foul trouble though, so if the Hawks can this young Terrapins team riled up early and commit unnecessary fouls, there is opportunity there for Iowa to blow this game wide open very early.
Personally, I think this is a huge prove-it game for the Iowa basketball team. They’ve shown they can persevere in tough situations on the road, and they’ve beaten top-ranked teams at home. I want to see them take care of a strong team at home and play winning basketball throughout the contest.
According to ESPN, the Hawks have a 62% chance of winning this game while KenPom gives Iowa a 55% chance.
Tip off for this game is scheduled for 7 PM Central Standard Time, and the game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.