Iowa Basketball: Preview, prediction vs. Northwestern

Iowa basketball hosts the Northwestern Wildcats in Big Ten play on Tuesday night. Here’s a preview and prediction for the game.

The 10th ranked Iowa basketball team (7-2) will face the 19th ranked Northwestern Wildcats (6-1) in a battle of ranked opponents on Tuesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00 pm CT on FS1.

Currently the leaders in the Big Ten (3-0), Northwestern could make a statement to the rest of the conference with a win against Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Wildcats have won four straight games and are ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 13, 2017.

Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes are looking to win their second game in conference play (1-1). Iowa is fresh off a disappointing overtime loss to the Minnesota Gophers on Christmas Day, which caused them to fall to No. 10 in the AP poll.

On the bright side, Iowa is playing much better defense recently, even despite allowing a season-high 102 points against the Gophers. Prior to that loss, the Hawkeyes gave up just 55 points to Purdue.

Fran McCaffery’s squad will need to be extremely disciplined against Northwestern, which averages over 85 points per game. Led by junior forward Miller Kopp (15.1 points per game) the Wildcats are capable of putting up points in a hurry.

Kopp is shooting a stellar 57 percent from downtown, while Northwestern as a team averages 42 percent from beyond the arc. Four players average double-digit points.

The Wildcats are extremely deep, as well. At least nine players average 16 minutes per game, so don’t be surprised if head coach Chris Collins leans on his bench early, especially if key players get into foul trouble.

Defensively, Northwestern will be one of the better units the Hawkeyes face all season. The Wildcats allow just 62 points per game, including 38 percent on field goal attempts and just 28 percent from three.

Prediction: Iowa 80, Northwestern 72

The Hawkeyes are currently an 11-point favorite, according to Action Network. It’s hard to see them trouncing a legitimate defensive team like Northwestern, but weirder things have happened. After all, it’s 2020. In the end, Iowa picks up a nice win over a ranked opponent to move to 8-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play.