By The Numbers:
Dec 31, 2013 - Carver-Hawkeye Arena - Iowa City, Iowa
7:00 PM ET, Big Ten Network
The Hawkeyes come into this game on New Years Eve with an 11-2 record (8-0 at home) and a #22 ranking. Iowa needs to remain undefeated at home and win tonight against Nebraska for a few minor reasons. Starting the Big Ten with a win can get this team rolling to a much bigger game against Wisconsin on January 5th and Ohio State on January 12th. Both of those games are on the road and would give the Hawkeyes the big win they need at this point. This team is projected to make the field of 64, but if they want to become a 3-4 seed, then a home loss to Nebraska would hurt those chances. Look for Iowa to come out sharp early in this game understanding that this is a must win for the Hawkeyes.
Nebraska is currently sitting here with 8 wins and needs another 8 or so to really vie for an NIT bid at the end of the season. This game is not only the Big Ten opener for the Cornhuskers, but their biggest game in the last month. A road win over a ranked team would do wonders for team morale and their resume. A win in Iowa City would be the best win for Nebraska this season and would have them heading in the right direction for an NIT bid. They have their work cut out for them though to start the Big Ten season starting with games on the road against Iowa and Ohio State and a 1-4 record away from Bob Devaney Sports Center.
Projected Starting Lineups
|Melsahn Basabe||F||Terran Petteway|
|Aaron White||F||Shavon Shields|
|Adam Woodbury||C/F||Walter Pitchford|
|Mike Gesell||G||Ray Gallegos|
|Roy Devyn Marble||G||Tai Webster|
Iowa Players to Watch
Roy Devyn Marble is the leading scorer for the Hawkeyes (15.3) and also averages the most minutes on the team (25.9). With the scheduling getting tougher now, Marble should see both of those numbers go up. He is a bit of a stat stuffer averaging 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals per game this season. Because of how spread out the Iowa offense is Marble isn't needed to put up huge numbers, but he can't disappear in this one. In a perfect world, Marble is more efficient today and stays around 15 shots while getting his teammates going as well.
Aaron White is the second leading scorer (13.2) and is also the second leading rebounder as well for Iowa. He is also one of the most efficient scorers on the team putting up 10 shots or more in only 3 games this season. White doesn't need to launch up a ton of shots to score his points as he averages almost 7 free throw attempts per game. While Marble needs to be a little more conservative with his shots, White needs to continue to be aggressive and get to the line to win big against Nebraska.
Adam Woodbury starts, but doesn't see a whole lot of minutes like most starters do. He only averages 16.6 minutes per game, but that could be due to competition and size as he's 7'1 245. Against Iowa State, he played 25 minutes and put up his season high of 11 rebounds. Tonight against Nebraska, Woodbury has a nice size advantage with only one big for Nebraska playing significant minutes and even then he's only 6'10. If Woodbury gets 25+ minutes he could easily see 10+ rebounds in the Big Ten season opener.
Nebraska Players to Watch:
Terran Petteway is going to be heavily relied upon in this game and will have to get hot from long distance to win this game. Petteway is easily the leading scorer for the Cornhuskers averaging 17.3 points per game and has an impressive 42.9% from three-pointer so far this season. He is averaging only 3.5 threes per game, but will have to shoot more and at the same clip for Nebraska to steal a win on the road against Iowa.
Shavon Shields is the Robin to Petteway's Batman. Shields is the second leading scorer (12.7) and the two of them average 30 of the Cornhuskers' 72 points per game. In their last game, he shot 1 of 11 from the field and ended with only 2 points. Not surprisingly, Nebraska lost by 15 to Cincinnati. Tonight, Shields will have to be aggressive going to the rim and continue his 6+ free throw attempts per game.
Walter Pitchford only averages 22 minutes and 8 points per game, but will be tested against Woodbury and the Hawkeyes. He'll have to be on the court as long as Woodbury and his 7 foot frame are because of the size issues Nebraska has. By size issues, I mean Nebraska has 1 player with size that plays. While Woodbury hasn't been dominant this season, he played very well against Iowa State and could see big minutes with the mismatch. Pitchford will have to limit the damage that Woodbury does on the boards tonight.
When you think Iowa basketball, you think top 5 in points per game, rebounds per game, and assists per game right? As odd as it sounds, Iowa has turned into one of the best offenses in the NCAA averaging 88.7 points per game. Tonight against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Hawkeyes face off against a team that likes to play slower and will try to slow this offense down. Luckily for the the Hawkeyes though, they have many advantages going into this game. Playing at home will be a factor in this game to also go along with better overall talent and a center that could take over the game if Pitchford gets in foul trouble.
Nebraska averages 12 rebounds less than Iowa per season and if they can even that number then they can keep this game close going into the second half. With the game close in the second half, they'll need Petteway to take over and get hot from the field. In the end though, the Hawkeyes are too well-rounded and control the boards as a team just too much for Nebraska to steal a game on the road. Look for Iowa to put up a lot of points and start their Big Ten season with a win against Nebraska tonight at home.
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