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Indiana men’s basketball: Three things to know about Iowa

The Hawkeyes, like the Hoosiers, are in a down year.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana welcomes Iowa to Assembly Hall on Tuesday as each are in the middle of their own respective down years.

There’s a few differences that make each’s situation unique, but at this rate both are likely to be on the outside looking in when March Madness comes around.

Here’s three things to know about the Hawkeyes:

Freshman center Owen Freeman

Owen Freeman is probably going to be named the league’s Freshman of the Year. It’s an honor that’d be well deserved.

He stepped right into this Hawkeyes unit and became a key cog almost immediately, using up 21.9% of possessions, good for third on the team, in an offense designed to spread the ball around.

His offensive rating of 124.1 is the highest of the Hawkeyes starters and second highest overall on the team. He’s both good enough to draw double teams and smart enough to know when and how to pass out for the open shooter.

In conference only stats, his offensive rating jumps to 131.7 (4th best in the league) with effective field goal and true shooting percentages of 67.2 and 69.1, both are second in the league.

The Hawkeyes have a lot of ways to get him the ball, be it battling for position on the block, the pick and roll, and using off-ball motion to get him open. His length makes him a more than capable offensive rebounder, Indiana’s going to need to attack the glass.

On defense, his 6’10” frame makes him an issue down low as he’s still adapting to the college game.

This is a game Indiana would like to have Kel’el Ware back for to give him a matchup in the paint with superior length and size. Otherwise it’s probably Malik Reneau’s job to keep track of him.

Indiana’s best bet is likely to exploit the dilemma almost every freshman big faces in the league: foul trouble.

The offensive/defensive balance

Iowa has almost always been an offense-first unit under Fran McCaffery, with the defense lagging behind with enough firepower to keep them in games.

It’s helped the past few years when next-level talent like Luka Garza or either of the Murray brothers has been around to carry much of the load. That go-to guy isn’t in Iowa City this year, with Freeman likely becoming that type of player as he gets more experience.

The Hawkeyes rank 21st nationally in KenPom’s offensive efficiency metrics and 113th in defensive efficiency. For reference, 21st is the lowest ranking since 2018-19, with Iowa being at least a top-five unit the past few years.

The defense ranks higher than last year’s unit, but still low for a typical Iowa squad. And the offense hasn’t flown high enough to make up for it as happened last season.

Senior guard Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins was a three-star guard in the class of 2020 out of Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, the same one that produced the likes of Greg Oden, Mike Conley and Indiana sophomore C.J. Gunn.

For whatever reason, he did not receive an offer from any of the three high-major programs in the state. The only high-major offer he held was Iowa, which saw something in him that nobody else evidently did.

Now, as a senior, he’s among the better guards in the Big Ten and the Hawkeyes’ leader. He uses nearly a quarter of Iowa’s possessions and averages 15.2 points, 4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

Games against the two Big Ten programs in the state mean a bit more to him, as happened last year during the blowout loss in Assembly Hall.