Game Preview and Discusion: Iowa Hosts Michigan

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

#17 Iowa hosts the #10 Wolverines as the Hawkeyes look to stay in the top four of the B1G

By The Numbers

Iowa Team Michigan
17-6 (6-4) Record 17-5 (9-1)
#17 Rankings #10
35 RPI 15
13 BPI 19
11 KenPom 14
10 Sagarin 7

February 8, 2014 - Carver Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City Iowa

2:00 PM ET ESPN/WatchESPN

Skinny

The Iowa Hawkeyes have struggled recently amidst their tough schedule and really haven't played well in their big games. I'm sure it has caused some to wonder if Iowa is for real. This game against Michigan could really halt those talks if they pull out a win even with the game being at home. Dan Dakich questioned the Hawkeyes toughness against Ohio State and to be fair he might be right. Iowa played MSU very tough until the last ten minutes of the game. They struggled mightily at the end of that game and couldn't pull off a win. Against Ohio State they were dominated in the second half. Iowa needs to step it up against Michigan Saturday and prove the haters wrong.

Now that we've cleared the air with Iowa's negative issues these days, let's get to what they're doing well. They have outrebounded eight of their last nine opponents and that one time was against MSU when both teams had 38 rebounds. Iowa has gotten to the line 20+ times in every B1G but one (Ohio State in their last game). They are beating the teams they are supposed to. Their only losses in the B1G are against Wisconsin, Michigan, MSU, and OSU also known as "the really good ones". There's something to be said for winning games against underdogs consistently.

When looking at this matchup against Michigan, Iowa is going to have to continue to do the things listed above. They have to win the rebound column, they need to get Michigan's bigs in foul trouble, and they need to protect their home court. Michigan is without McGary, so they realistically only have two solid big men. Iowa poses a huge threat to the Wolverines with the way Basabe and Olaseni have been playing in the low post. While Iowa doesn't really have a chance at winning the B1G anymore, they still need to be a top four seed going into the B1G tournament.

While Iowa has struggled a little bit recently, Michigan has been great. They are 9-1 in the B1G with their lone loss being at Indiana. In that game, Indiana used an interesting defensive plan to slow down Nik Stauskas and make other players beat them. Well, that didn't happen, so they lost. Michigan bounced back nicely though against Nebraska winning by 29 and making 13 threes. Glenn Robinson III scored 23 points in that game, but he needs to step up against the best teams in the B1G. He played well against Iowa earlier this season, so it'll be interesting if he'll keep it up on Saturday.

In this matchup against Iowa, Michigan is quite simply going to have to be great on offense. They're unlikely to outrebound the number three rebounding team in the country, so they'll need guys like Stauskas, LeVert, and even Irvin to have their shots falling. The Wolverines can't afford to have a bad game out of Stauskas on the road on Saturday like they did the week before against Indiana. LeVert has played well recently and has been very good when Stauskas stumbles and recently Zak Irvin has shown why he was Mr. Indiana last season. He has made a three in each of his last five games stemming from that 11-point performance against Iowa. Quite simply, they need to be ready for anything Iowa throws at them defensively and adjust better than they did against Indiana.

Projected Starting Lineups:

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

Iowa Players to Watch:

Aaron White will likely have the task of defending LeVert or Stauskas depending on what Fran wants to do. They both drive the ball pretty well, but if Fran wants to put a smaller and more agile player on Stauskas then it won't White. White has been solid on the glass bringing down six rebounds in five straight games, but he's shooting less and not as efficiently lately. When one of your best players takes only four shots in an OT game against Michigan State, it's not a good thing. Let's see White find a way to throw up more shots on Saturday.

Roy Devyn White has picked up the slack for White taking 11+ shots in three straight games averaging 16 points per game during that stretch. He'll likely have the task of defending Stauskas meaning he'll have to play as well on defense as he has been on offense lately.

Melsahn Basabe and Gabriel Olaseni are two guys I always stick together because of what they do for Iowa. They are great rebounders, down low scorers when cleaning the glass, and play limited minutes. It's only right to put them together. It seems like when one plays great then the other one plays average. Against Michigan this will likely be the case, but as long as one can play great then they'll be on pace to win.

Michigan Players to Watch:

Nik Stauskas is the typical guy to talk about when discussing Michigan basketball, so let's not beat a dead horse. He needs to find a way to take 10+ quality shots against Iowa on the road and if he can't then he has to penetrate the defense and find the guys that are shooting well whether it be Walton Jr, Irvin, or LeVert. Quite simply, Michigan will go as far as he goes.

Caris LeVert has stepped up his game lately scoring 12+ in four straight games and has even added 7+ rebounds in three of his last four games. He has hit his shots lately and he's logging big minutes. Whether Stauskas has a big game or not, it'll be imperative for him to continue to keep shooting well as he compliments the driving ability of Stauskas and Walton Jr.

Derrick Walton Jr. has played great lately and we're starting to see someone who could realistically replace Trey Burke for the next few seasons. He only played three minutes against Iowa, but in the four games since, he has averaged 13 points, three assists, and three rebounds per game. He has shot over 50% in those games and it's because of him hitting open looks from beyond the arc.

Iowa Perspective by Chris Kay (@InsiderFantasy1): Iowa has struggled recently and I might be partially to blame for that. I did write that Iowa would easily win one of the two games this week. Well, it's time for Iowa to help me out here! Sadly, I'm not sure that'll happen. Defensively, I see some matchup problems for Iowa's guards. If Iowa was smart, they would force a lot of pressure onto the freshman Derrick Walton Jr. and the player I think is the most overrated in the B1G, Glenn Robinson III. I've already beaten the matchups to death, so let me tell you what I think will actually happen. Iowa shoots well and takes the lead going into the half. From then on, it's up to them to keep that lead and stop Michigan from shooting the three effectively. With the way that Michigan is shooting and coming off a 29 point win against Nebraska, I see their confidence high and I think they pull this one out easily (reverse jinx for the win).

Michigan Perspective by Josh Stern (@jmstern23): As Michigan's season has gone on, the development and growth of each player has been tremendous. Nik Stauskas, averaging about 18 PPG, played the role of distributor against Nebraska, dishing out 8 assists while only attempting 3 shots and scoring 9 points. Caris LeVert had a brilliant game, going for 16 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. But the biggest surprise was Glenn Robinson III, a Nebraska killer in both games this season, going for 23 points and 5 rebounds. I bring up these statistics because Michigan is going to need this type of output against Iowa to have a chance to win. The big key to this game is going to be on the interior. While Jon Horford had a decent game against Nebraska, the Cornhuskers' front line doesn't even compare to that of Iowa. Michigan had serious trouble in the first game, and Gabriel Olaseni has become a tremendous rebounder and finisher. Despite the loss to Ohio State, Olaseni looked like the most dominant player on the floor, going for 14 points and 6 rebounds in 19 minutes. The other scary part for Michigan is that Aaron White and Roy Devyn Marble will not shoot a combined 7-20 again. They are too talented and experienced, and Michigan's defense will likely not be able to hold them to these numbers. The Wolverines will likely have to win this game in a shootout, but Iowa will look to push the pace much more than Michigan. Michigan State's win on Thursday night tied the Spartans with the Wolverines at the top of the B1G standings, and if the Wolverines can put Iowa away it will become a two team race.

Prediction:

CK- Iowa can't stop the Michigan three ball and they lose 120 to 85. Ok fine, Michigan wins 83-80.

JS- In the end, I think Michigan pulls out this victory. Nik Stauskas will have much more of an impact on offense, and the Wolverines will continue to knock down the long ball. Michigan 76, Iowa 69.

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