The No. 3 ranked Iowa basketball team faces No. 1 Gonzaga on Saturday morning. Here’s a preview and prediction for the game.
Two undefeated teams collide on Saturday in what may end up being the game of the season in college basketball. The No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes (6-0) take on the No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (3-0) on Saturday, Dec. 19, at Sanford Arena in Sioux Falls, SD. Fans won’t have to wait long, as tip-off is scheduled for 11:00 am CT on CBS.
Iowa basketball entered the season with lofty expectations – initially ranked No. 5 in the AP poll – and so far Fran McCaffery’s squad has lived up to the hype.
Star center Luka Garza ranks second in the nation with 29.2 points per game, while the Hawkeyes as a team average the most points per game among all Division I teams (100.5). Iowa is the only team averaging 100 points. In the KenPom ratings, the Hawks rank No. 1 in adjusted offensive efficiency.
On the defensive side of the ball, Iowa has some room for improvement. They rank 76th in adjusted defensive efficiency, all while playing some weaker competition. That said, they only allow 68.5 points per game.
On the other side, Gonzaga is rated No. 2 in KenPom’s offensive efficiency metric, while ranking 14th in defensive efficiency. The Bulldogs average 93 points per game, and that’s come against some stiff competition. The Zags defeated No. 5 Kansas and No. 8 West Virginia earlier this season.
There’s no question both of these teams are elite offensively. Whichever team is able to out-rebound the other on the offensive end of the floor is likely to win this game. Iowa also has a major edge from the 3-point arc. The Hawkeyes average 40 percent from downtown, while Gonzaga averages 29 percent. If Iowa can maintain that average in this game, they should win.
Prediction: Iowa 90, Gonzaga 86
As of Friday evening, the Hawkeyes are currently a 3.5-point underdog, according to Odds Shark. The over/under is set at 171.5 points.
This is going to be a great game. Iowa is an underdog, but I’m not sure the consensus line is accurate. Gonzaga hasn’t played since Dec. 2 due to a covid outbreak within their program. The Zags just resumed practice on Thursday. Coach Mark Few expressed concern with the conditioning level of his team due to the two-week layoff. The Hawkeyes’ high-tempo offense will be a lot to handle for the Bulldogs, which is why I give the sight edge to Iowa in the end. Expect a lot of points in this one.