Game Preview: Iowa Heads to Ann Arbor

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

#10 Iowa matches up against #21 Michigan in one of the best B1G games this week.

By The Numbers:

Iowa Team Michigan
15-3 Record 13-4
10 Rankings 21
29 RPI 26
10 BPI 19
5 KenPom 13
3 Sagarin 13

January 22, 2014 - Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan

7:00 PM ET - Big Ten Network

Skinny:

The Hawkeyes are flying high after a great start to their B1G season with very nice wins over Ohio State and Minnesota. They are ranked in the top 10 for the first time in 12 seasons and don't want their season to end up like that one did (I can't imagine that happening again). This matchup tonight is going to play a large factor into who wins the regular season B1G championship with the way these two have played. The Hawkeyes have played on the road in a ruckus atmosphere and kept their composure beating Ohio State and coming up just short of a win at Wisconsin. Josh Oglesby came off the bench hot from beyond the arc last game and Aaron White was his consistent scoring self. Unsurprisingly, the Hawkeyes' big men outrebounded the Golden Gophers by 7 (40-33) yet only had three players with 5 or more rebounds.

The 21st ranked Michigan Wolverines enter Wednesday night's matchup at the Crisler Center against 10th ranked Iowa in a very intriguing spot. After losing last year's NCAA Tournament standout Mitch McGary to back surgery in December, the Wolverines have surprised everybody by reeling off seven straight wins, including five straight to begin conference play. This impressive run of late is a credit to head coach John Beilein and his staff in creating that "next man up" mentality in this locker room and kept his squad together despite the media ending their title hoops when McGary went down.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Iowa Position Michigan
Melsahn Basabe F Glenn Robinson III
Aaron White F Nik Stauskas
Adam Woodbury C/F Jordan Morgan
Roy Devyn Marble G Caris Lavert
Mike Gessell G Derrick Walton Jr.

Players to Watch:

Aaron White is putting up great scoring numbers in his last three games and he's doing it in his usual fashion. White has made 23 free throws (in 24 attempts) in those three games. It's typical Aaron White to score 40% of his points by way of the free throw (22 of 55). Look for White to drive to the hoop and take advantage of the tighter officiating rules that were put in place this season.

Roy Devyn Marble has the kind of ability to go for 25+ points in a game. He scored 27 points against Wisconsin and almost reached that plateau with 22 points against Ohio State. Marble is averaging 19 points per game in the B1G season so far. Marble is averaging only three 3-point attempts in the B1G season, but he's been very effective making 55.5% of them (10 for 18).

Melsahn Basabe and Gabriel Olaseni are going to play a huge part in this game against Michigan because of their rebounding numbers. With Mitch McGary out, Michigan is a man down (a great man down) down low. Basabe and Olaseni have been a force for the Hawkeyes in recent games putting up 18/13 against the Golden Gophers and 10/15 against the Badgers.

Michigan:

The All-American's shoes have been filled admirably by seniors Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, both of whom have been credited for performing well in their roles within the system. The little things and hustle plays that teams need to do to pull out tough wins in conference play have been handled by the veteran big men. Their role on the defensive end will be key as Michigan looks to contain Iowa's top two scorers, Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White.

As far scoring goes, Nik Stauskus, whose Dad suggested the sophomore is now seriously considering entering the NBA draft next spring, has emerged as Michigan's go to guy. This was on full display as Stauskus hit the step back three to clinch Michigan's first win at the Kohl Center in Wisconsin since 1999 and first road win against a top 3 opponent ever. Stauskus finished with 23 points and earned Big Ten player of the Week for his efforts. Glenn Robinson III is finally starting to play like the projected lottery pick he is and sophomore Caris LeVert is in the midst of one of the biggest improvements of any player in college basketball.

Staff Comments:

Iowa Perspective by Chris Kay (@InsiderFantasy1): Iowa's big win over Ohio State is looking worse and worse by the week, so a win in Ann Arbor would pay off big for the Hawkeyes. The key to the game will be the effectiveness of guys like White, Basabe, and Olaseni on the glass. If these three can put up 6-8 rebounds each then it'll be extremely tough for Michigan to beat the #10 ranked Hawkeyes. The team rebounding numbers are that different. Iowa comes in third in the NCAA with 44.6 rebounds per game while Michigan averages only 33.5 which ranks them 269thin the NCAA. Iowa is a top 5 scoring offense, but it's their defense that will need to be sharp in this game. Rebounding is going to be key, but Iowa's defense against the 3 will be equally as important. Michigan is second in the B1G making 38.8% of three-pointers attempted. Iowa's three point FG defense ranks 13th nationally at 28.2% this season.

Michigan Perspective by Andy Creal: This team is hitting its stride at the perfect time as three weeks ago the Wolverines were considered a potential bubble team as the tournament approaches. Heading into tonight's second of a three game gauntlet, Michigan must try to avoid looking ahead to Saturday's showdown with Michigan State in East Lansing. A big win tonight would give John Beilein's club an opportunity to avenge the beatdown they suffered last season at the Breslin Center.

Prediction:

Kay - Iowa 79 Michigan 78

Creal - Since conference play began every game has had a different hero for the Wolverines. I like that trend to continue as Michigan squeaks out a win at home where they have been dominant in the last three seasons. If I'm right, college basketball fans win. ESPN's College Gameday will be in East Lansing Saturday to witness a battle of conference unbeatens as well as in-state rivals. Michigan wins 72 to 68.

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