*looks at Iowa’s record since playing Indiana on Jan. 21*
Ah. Well then.
*looks at Iowa’s defensive numbers*
*looks at everyone whose preseason predictions included an Iowa Final Four run*
In fairness, no one could have predicted this. Except, well, anyone with even a modest understanding of college basketball and Fran McCaffery.
Is your favorite Fran McCaffery season the one where Iowa started 15-3 and fell to 20-12 by Selection Sunday, the one where Iowa started 16-3 and fell to 21-10, or the one where 16-3 turned into 22-11?— crimson quarry (@crimsonquarry) January 22, 2021
It’s February now, and McCaffery’s highly-regarded Hawkeyes team is doing what highly-regarded McCaffery teams typically do. Iowa has lost three of its last four, a skid that started with its loss to the Hoosiers two weeks ago and snowballed from there. Regardless, Sunday’s rematch at Assembly Hall represents another all-important Quad I opportunity for the Hoosiers, who are 2-7 in such games. Can they get another? If they do, it could set them up for an all-around good Sunday.
KenPom dot com tells a tale as old as time for McCaffery’s program. At first glance, Iowa is in a great place — No. 4 nationally. The reason? The Hawkeyes have the country’s best offense, which is of little surprise when you look at the regulars Iowa trots out each night. The problem? You’ll find it in the next column over, a ranking of No. 134 in defensive efficiency. Of the top seven teams at KenPom (Iowa aside), no other program’s defensive numbers rank worse than No. 13 in the country.
The Hawkeyes have allowed at least 1.14 points per possession in each of their past four games, while watching opposing teams shoot the absolute hell out of the ball. Over the same four-game span, IU, Illinois, Michigan State and Ohio State have combined to shoot 43% from 3-point range. Woof! Not even the best college offense on the planet can cover for that.
Thursday’s 89-85 loss to Ohio State was a pretty good summation of where Iowa stands at this moment in time. Both teams made 14 3-pointers, recorded 20 assists and committed only six turnovers, but it was Iowa that couldn’t dig down and get the necessary stops in the most important moments. It sounds simple, but that’s pretty much it. Right now, that’s the kind of team that Iowa is — and, really, what it has been for the better part of McCaffery’s tenure. With so much experience on the roster, the thought was that this team might be different. So far, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Things to watch
Bohannon’s bounce back
The first meeting between these teams produced a forgettable night for Jordan Bohannon, who went scoreless on nine shots from the field — eight of them from beyond the arc. It was especially surprising considering that Bohannon has been the author of so many big shots against the Hoosiers during his career. The last time he played a game at Assembly Hall, Bohannon buried the Hoosiers with five 3-pointers and 25 points in a win on Feb. 7, 2019. Prior to the Jan. 21 meeting, Bohannon averaged 15.3 points and shot 43% (21-for-48) from 3-point range over his first six games against IU. In Thursday’s Ohio State game, Bohannon bounced back from three relatively quiet games to score 18 points. Can he repeat that perofrmance on Sunday against an opponent he traditionally feasts upon?
Luka Garza is going to get his points. It’s the guys around him that you need to slow, something IU found itself capable of doing in the initial matchup. In addition to Bohannon going scoreless, Joe Wieskamp went from being pretty freakin’ hot during the first few minutes of the opening half to going ice cold over the final 30 minutes of the game. C.J. Fredrick, too, was a non-factor. Fredrick, though, had a good excuse — a leg issue suffered a few days prior to that game. Over the ensuing weeks, Fredrick hasn’t played much. In fact, he didn’t play at all on Thursday. Whether he’ll see the court at IU is not clear.
Hungry, hungry Hawkeyes
Much like Rutgers on Jan. 24, Iowa heads into Assembly Hall really, really needing a win to break out of a slump. So does Indiana. Which team has a greater sense of urgency?
TJD vs. Garza
Matchups against the Big Ten Player of the Year haven’t phased Trayce Jackson-Davis. In two career games against Garza, the sophomore is averaging 20.0 points and 8.5 rebounds, while shooting 57% from the field. Regardless of the opponent, Jackson-Davis could use a get-right game after going merely 10-for-28 from the field over the past two outings.
Game Info / How to Watch
Who? Iowa (13-5, 7-4) at Indiana (9-8, 4-6)
Where? Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.
When? Sunday, noon Eastern
Channel? Fox | Gus Johnson (p-b-p), Bill Raftery (analyst)
Radio? IU Radio Network; Sirius 106, XM 196, Internet 958: Don Fischer, Errek Suhr & Joe Smith
Vegas? Iowa -4