After dropping five out of their final six regular season games, Iowa is holding on for dear life as they approach the postseason. Luckily for them, they will get a first round Big Ten Tournament matchup with Northwestern to try to get back on track.
Northwestern has been near the bottom of the conference for most of the season, and is coming in having lost seven of their last eight games, although the one win in that stretch did come in their final game of the season, a 74-65 victory at Purdue. In the two times these teams met this season, Iowa beat Northwestern by 26 points in each game.
Iowa, especially when they are playing well, is possibly the worst matchup for Northwestern of all teams in the conference. Iowa's deep group of forwards including Aaron White, Adam Woodbury and Gabriel Olaseni have dominated NU inside. In the 120 minutes played between these teams this season, the Hawkeyes have won the rebound battle 85 to 48.
Depth, especially up front, is the biggest reason why the Hawkeyes have dominated this matchup, which will be even extended now that NU's second leading scorer JerShon Cobb is out. Inside, Alex Olah is the only Wildcat capable of providing an interior presence, whereas Iowa has at least four players who can do so.
It will take a near-miracle for Northwestern to pull of a win in this game. But, if Iowa just can't hit anything and if Northwestern manages to hold their own on the inside and somehow even out the rebounding battle while Drew Crawford goes off for 25 and 10, then I suppose anything's possible.
This is exactly the game that Iowa needs. They are as cold as can be right now, but we all have seen that they have serious talent. This is the game that will get their confidence back, and then they will get a real test in a quarter-final matchup with Michigan State.