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Game Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes

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I TELL YA, THESE TWO TEAMS ARE LIKE WATCHING BASKETBALL ON ... HARDCOURT. wait what's happening?

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

GAME INFO:

Who? Iowa Hawkeyes (19-10 (10-6), #25 KenPom)  v. Indiana Hoosiers (19-10 (9-7), #48 KenPom)

When? Tuesday, March 3, 7:00 PM, ESPN

Vegas? INDIANA -2

Pomeroy? INDIANA by 2, 55% chance of Indiana victory

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DEFENSE IS BORING, ADMIT IT.

Iowa and Indiana haven't been doing much to stop B1G foes from scoring (10th and 13th in conference defensive efficiency) but only Wisconsin has been better than these two at scoring points. Folks, when two teams that can't get stops meet up and are bringing the 23rd and 7th most efficient offenses nationally to the table, it's not difficult to project that this will be

THE MOST WATCHABLE GAME OF ALL TIME.

Remember last year? That offensively-deficient group of rebels that suited up for the Hoosiers all season somehow scored NINETY-THREE POINTS in a single game, thanks in part to the game being an up-and-down track meet that resulted in EIGHTY-THREE POSSESSIONS. Not only did Indiana put up gobs of points, but they did it with superstars Yogi Ferrell and Noah Vonleh only chipping in 12, aggregate. Will Sheehey scored 30 and Stanford Robinson put up 17 (including 7-10(!!!) from the line) to lead the Hoosiers past the Hawkeyes.

Iowa is a little worst offensively and a little better defensively from their 2013-14 unit, and have returned the majority of that roster. Roy Devyn Marble is in the NBA and Zach McCabe is probably punching you in the face in a bar later, but everyone else is back.

Aaron White and Jarrod Uthoff lead the dynamic Hawkeyes and represent hilariously terrifying matchup nightmares for the Hoosiers. Both are 6'9" and are proficient from the perimeter on in, while being terrific rebounders and careful with the basketball. Because Iowa also utilizes 7'1" Adam Woodbury in their starting lineup, one of White or Uthoff will often find themselves being guarded by one of Indiana's backcourt players and that could be, uh, problematic.

And it's not just those guys, Iowa is generally huge, bigger than Purdue, actually. Going by KenPom's effective height metric, only five teams are bigger than the Hawkeyes. Granted, height isn't everything, as the Hoosiers did just fine in two meetings against Maryland, who come in tied for 9th in the same statistic. Unfortunately, Iowa has also slowed down their tempo considerably from last season, when they were first in the conference, they're now 11th, and Iowa is officially the "big and slow" team that typically gives Indiana fits.

Thankfully, their defensive efficiency could allow the Hoosiers to have an easier time imposing their pace on the game, and you have to like Indiana's chances in another track meet.

HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?

Four Factors
eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
INDIANA (Offense) 55.5% (14th) 17.1% (53rd) 35.1% (53rd) 33.6% (266th)
IOWA (Defense) 45.0% (32nd) 19.3% (167th) 31.5% (198th) 29.0% (26th)
eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
INDIANA (Defense) 50.6% (244th) 16.3% (324th) 31.2% (182nd) 30.4% (42nd)
IOWA (Offense) 48.3% (204th) 17.7% (80th) 35.5% (42nd) 39.1% (121st)

Iowa makes for an interesting profile, as offensive rebounding is a big key for them on both ends. They're below average shooters, but their offensive rebounding gives them enough extra chances to make them a top offensive unit, while on defense, they're excellent shot defending is somewhat undone by being unable to prevent the very same second chances they thrive on. As we know, despite their lack of size, the Hoosiers are a very strong offensive rebounding team, and it would behoove them to continue that success against Iowa's length, as makes my not be easy to come by.

Scarier yet for the Hoosiers are Iowa's plus perimeter defense along with a healthy block%. Looking through the metrics, it's hard to figure out how Iowa has been so poor defensively during the conference season, especially with a lot of their raw numbers looking decent-to-great.

Stuff to Watch For:

  • How will the Hoosiers respond? For the first time since the start of the year, this Indiana team truly has their backs up against the wall. They're not on the bubble or in danger of missing the postseason (despite what #IUTwitter would have you believe) but they are certainly trending in the wrong direction. They have two awesome opportunities to polish up their résumé with home dates against Iowa and Michigan State, followed by the Big Ten Tournament, and getting 2-3 wins here will do a lot for their seeding. A couple more losses, however, and things to start to get shaky. Indiana should benefit from a fairly weak bubble in that scenario, but it sure would be nice to avoid it altogether. An 8-1 conference home slate is still very possible, let's see if this team and these fans can give these last two visitors a forgettable trip.
  • Is Collin Hartman healthy? I think Hartman's absence against Northwestern was somewhat understated. I'm not saying they win if he's out there, but he has certainly played the roll of "steadying presence" on more than one occasion this season and when a young team is on the road facing a second-half onslaught and their glue guy is on the bench in sweats, sometimes things come apart. He gives Indiana some good length and another offensive weapon, a role that Max Hoetzel isn't quite ready to step into, so it'll be important to have him for the Iowa game. Unfortunately, Tom Crean didn't sound confident that Hartman would be ready to go as of Sunday night, as Collin had yet to participate in live practice.
  • But seriously who is guarding Jarrod Uthoff? Assuming Indiana uses the starting five from Northwestern, Hanner Mosquera-Perea will pick up the Woodbury assignment, Troy Williams will check Aaron White, and that leaves one of Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr., and Robert Johnson to take on the 6-9 Uthoff. I would expect a fair amount of zone to be thrown at Iowa's size but it's well-known that Indiana switches defenses in the middle of possessions, so man-to-man will still be relied on to some extent. If healthy, perhaps it's worth taking one of the guards out of the starting lineup and inserting Hartman to try and put the straps on Uthoff, but I'd say that's unlikely.