The #20 ranked Iowa basketball Hawkeyes are back at home in Carver-Hawkeye Arena to host the #25 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.
WHO?: Ohio State Buckeyes (17-8, 7-7 conference) at Iowa Hawkeyes (18-8, 9-6 conference)
WHEN?: 6:00 PM; 2/20/20
WHERE?: Carver Hawkeye Arena; Iowa City, Iowa
WHERE TO WATCH?: ESPN
The rest of the Iowa basketball schedule is full of landmines. With five games left, we have #25 ranked Ohio State, preseason #1 Michigan State, #13 ranked Penn State, Purdue who trounced the Hawkeyes and close it out with Illinois on the road who is very good at home. Four of these five teams are inside the top 4 of the Big Ten and Purdue is right outside.
It all starts back at Carver with Ohio State tomorrow night. Ohio State has struggled in Big Ten play but has been super solid as of late having won five of their last six games and has huge wins this year including Villanova and Kentucky on a neutral site. Ohio State has worked its way back into the Top 25 after falling out for an extended time.
Ohio State is led by a dominant big man, Kaleb Wesson who averages 14.1 points per game while adding 9.4 rebounds per contest. Wesson is very physical inside and again is a guy I could see giving Garza issues, but I have said that a few times this season and Luka has been able to handle it. However, Iowa has had a real problem rebounding this year and Wesson is one of the best rebounders in the Big Ten.
Their guard play is also solid and leading the way is sophomore Duane Washington Jr. who is averaging 10.6 points and 1.5 assists per game and is shooting 39.2% from beyond the arc. Hometown kid DJ Carton who grew up just an hour from Iowa City yet decided to go to Ohio State has taken a leave of absence from the Ohio State program and will have to push back his homecoming game until next year. The absence of Carton is an important one as he averaged 10.4 points and 3 assists in the 20 games he saw action in.
But the matchup to watch in this game will be the fundamentally sound Garza vs the physicality of Kaleb Wesson. Garza (and the rest of the Hawkeyes) struggled against Purdue to rebound the ball facing a similar style of player. Wesson is similarly sized to Purdue’s Trevion Williams and averages more rebounds per game. Wesson is also known to be extremely physical in the paint and could get Luka in foul trouble early.
CJ Fredrick is questionable and listed day-to-day, but in my non-medical opinion, he isn’t going to play. His injury looked bad (he couldn’t put any weight on it) and has dealt with injuries early this year, he should probably play it safe and sit this one out. Assuming he can’t go, Iowa likely goes with the same starting lineup they did last time of Toussiant, McCaffery, Wieskamp, Garza, and Kreiner.
Wieskamp really struggled his last time out all but disappearing from the floor against Minnesota adding just two points, I’ve said it before he doesn’t take bad games well. Even dating back to high school he would always answer an off night with a huge career game and without Fredrick, we will need him. I can’t see how if Weiskamp has another off night how Iowa can win, it’s really as simple as that. Iowa will need him on his A-game, especially if Garza struggles with the physicality of Wesson or finds himself in early foul trouble again.
Iowa again will need huge contributions off the bench, specifically from Bakari Evelyn who likely will play big minutes behind Touissant and in place of Fredrick. Evelyn has really struggled this season but played well against Minnesota and we will need him to build on that.
Cordell Pemsl will also need to replicate the Minnesota game for when Garza and Krenier need a breather and we will need him to be crashing the boards hard against a good rebounding team in Ohio State. Against Purdue Iowa simply could not get a rebound, I believe the first five Purdue misses were rebounded by Purdue. If Iowa allows Ohio State to get rebound after rebound, they will not win. Ohio State is too good of a team to allow second and third opportunities and they will make the Hawkeyes pay.
How they Match-Up Statistically
Iowa Offense: 78.2 PP/G (25th in NCAA, KenPom Adjusted 6th)
Ohio State Offense: 71.5 PP/G (164th in NCAA, KenPom Adjusted 21st)
Iowa Defense: 71.7 PA/G (249th in NCAA, KenPom Adjusted 87th)
Ohio State Defense: 61.4 PA/G (13th in NCAA, KenPom Adjusted 14th)
How they Match-Up in Rankings
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Iowa Hawkeyes: 21
Ohio State Buckeyes: 9
Iowa Hawkeyes: 29
Ohio State Buckeyes: 17
AP Top 25:
Iowa Hawkeyes: 20
Ohio State Buckeyes: 25
Iowa Hawkeyes: 29
Ohio State Buckeyes: 13
Vegas Prediction (based on line): Iowa 78, Ohio State 75.5.
My Prediction: Iowa 55, Ohio State 24.