The Iowa Hawkeyes have another early test in this young season to take down a ranked opponent as they head down to Tobacco Road to take on the No. 12 North Carolina.
Fran McCaffery has his team setting at 5-2 and hoping that the third time will be a charm verus a ranked opponents. Both of the Hawkeyes' losses have came from top 25 teams now No. 6 and previous ranked Syracuse. Wednesday night's game will be the fourth time the two programs have locked up with Iowa actually leading the series 2-1.
Obviously North Carolina has the more talented team but if Iowa wants to take a 3-1 all-time series lead its going to start with defense and ripping down offensive rebounds for second chance points. In the Tar Heels lone loss to Butler, it was evident that North Carolina struggles with teams that can rebound the ball at a high rate. The Bulldog feasted on the glass putting down a ridiculous 29 offensive rebounds in the upset victory.
This bode well for the Hawkeyes, who have four players averaging at least five boards per contest including Iowa's best player Aaron White. White just isn't the team's leading scorer but the top rebounder as well logging 7.6 per game and leads all active Big Ten players in total rebounds with 706, and is second in points with 1,418. Adam Woodbury is no slouch on the inside averaging 9.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 60% from the field.
The frontcourt for the Hawkeyes that also inculdes Jarrod Uthoff, who is the only other players averaging double-digits in the point column is going to be the key for an Iowa upset.
North Carolina also struggled against Butler in the turnover department and finishing that game with a total of 19.
On the flip-side, the storyline for the Tar Heels is the homecoming for junior guard Marcus Paige. The Iowa native is looking more aggressive this season leading the team in scoring averaging 15.2 per game and is the unquestioned leader of the team. When it comes to playing his home state whether be Iowa or Iowa State, Paige has acknowledged that these games have a different feel to them than others.
Paige grew up playing AAU basketball with Iowa bigman Adam Woodbury and guard Tim Gesell who also a close childhood friend. He also played against center Josh Oglesby and Jarrod Uthoff of the Hawkeyes as well.
Last season in the NCCA tournament, Pagie racked up 19 points including four threes in the 85-83 loss versus Iowa State.
"He said if we lose that game he won't come home, he won't come home at all," said Paige's older sister Morgan. If it means an upset win over a ranked opponent, Hawkeye fans just might take that deal.