Game Preview: Northwestern Heads to Iowa City

Andy Lyons

Drew Crawford and the Northwestern Wildcats head to Iowa City to play the Hawkeyes in a late night B1G battle.

By the Numbers:

Northwestern Team Iowa
7-8 Record 12-3
N/A Rankings #20
156 RPI 23
150 BPI 13
158 KenPom 12
159 Sagarin 8

January 8th, 2014 - Carver-Hawkeye Arena - Iowa City Iowa

9:00 PM EST – ESPNU/WatchESPN

Skinny:

Iowa comes into this game 1-1 in the B1G and 12-3 overall. The Hawkeyes have to win this one at home seeing as conference wins are hard to come by and Northwestern is considered the worst team in the B1G. Iowa will be without their head coach in this game due to Fran McCaffery being ejected against the Badgers. Iowa is an older team, so their big game against Ohio State on Sunday shouldn’t be a distraction in this one.

Northwestern is 7-8 overall and 0-2 in the B1G so far this season. The Wildcats have had a tough time and have no real good wins at this point in the season. A win on the road is unlikely against a very good Iowa team, but playing a very competitive game against a good team would go a long ways with their mentality.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Northwestern Position Iowa
Sanjay Lumpkin G/F Melsahn Basabe
Jershon Cobb G/F Aaron White
Alex Olah C Adam Woodbury
Dave Sobolewski G Mike Gessell
Drew Crawford G Roy Devyn Marble

Players to Watch:

Drew Crawford is easily the best player on the Wildcats averaging 16/7/2 so far this season. He had two huge games against Brown and Mississippi Valley State scoring 50 points and 21 rebounds. Against Michigan and Wisconsin though, Crawford scored 27 total points and 8 rebounds. Northwestern will need a very good performance from Crawford to keep this one close.

Alex Olah has the 7’0 frame to compete with Iowa’s bigs, but doesn’t necessarily have the rebounding skills at this point in his career. Olah is only averaging 5.3 rebounds per game, but has shown some nice offensive touch scoring 23 against Wisconsin just a week ago.

Roy Devyn Marble: Marble is coming off a 27-point performance against Wisconsin and is averaging 21 points in his two B1G games so far this season. Marble is a high volume shooter in Iowa’s bigger games, but won’t repeat a 24-shot game like he did against the Badgers. Look for the senior to log around 30 minutes in this one with an emphasis on being active in the passing game.

Aaron White is a jump shooter that is active on the boards for the Hawkeyes. He leads the team with 6.4 rebounds per game and even has a 17-rebound game this season against Iowa State. During B1G play White is averaging 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 assist per game. Although Iowa rotates 10-11 players, White has managed to play 31+ minutes in three of his last four games.

Northwestern Perspective @jasondorow: Northwestern showed signs of life against Michigan, competing with the Wolverines for the first 12 minutes. The Wildcats played the best defense we’ve seen from Chris Collins’ squad all season. However, the lack of depth caught up with them, and Michigan went on to blow them out. Iowa may be the toughest matchup Northwestern will get all season and should wear them out just like Michigan did. The Hawkeyes are extremely deep and strong inside. Iowa is leading the Big Ten in rebounding with 45.4 boards per game, while Northwestern is next to last in the conference. Alex Olah and Sanjay Lumpkin are going to struggle in the paint against Iowa’s plethora of forwards. The Hawkeyes will be able to dominate the glass and have a hay day in the post. This game is going to test the toughness of the Wildcats. No chance they win, but Northwestern can show effort and willingness to compete against top competition. The ‘Cats should focus on working through their halfcourt offense, getting quality shots, and handling larger players in the paint, and playing a full 40 minutes.

Iowa Perspective by Chris Kay (@itsgonnabeohkay): Iowa has plenty of reasons to be distracted in this game, but the matchup against Northwestern and the Hawkeyes veteran presence should prevent a bad loss Thursday. Iowa is coming off a tough loss to Wisconsin and has a big game against Ohio State on Sunday, so the Hawkeyes players will be tested mentally in this one. For those of you who have not seen Iowa play, you will be impressed with the way they are playing overall. They have 3 losses all to good teams and all by 5 points or less. This is a game that Iowa cannot afford to lose due to how bad Northwestern seems to be. I think Iowa gets back to really running the court and puts up another 80+ points.

Prediction: Iowa is just too much for Northwestern even without their head coach. The rebounding and height advantage for the Hawkeyes provides a huge advantage that the Wildcats can't rebound from (get it?). The game should be in hand by second half and the Hawkeyes win their second game in the B1G season Thursday night.

Jason Dorow: Iowa 79, Northwestern 47

Chris Kay: Iowa 82, Northwestern 58

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