Michigan and Northwestern provided a crazy start to Day Two of the Big Ten Tournament and Illinois and Iowa kept it going to finish off the afternoon games. The Illini jumped on the Hawkeyes from the start and held off a late game rally to polish off the upset.
Here were our five biggest takeaways from the game:
1. Sloppy first half dooms the Hawkeyes
Iowa came into the game as the 10th rated first half team in the country. That did not materialize on Thursday afternoon. The Hawkeyes came out sloppy on both ends of the floor. They came in averaging 10 turnovers a game and had 9 by the time the first 20 minutes was over. They took a lot of quick and contested shots, which isn't rare for this team, but it put them into an early hole. The other reason for the early deficit was their poor defense on the other end. It seemed like Maverick Morgan got wide open looks on the inside countless times and he cashed in for 12 points in the first half. Morgan had 10 total in the two teams' first matchup.
2. So does late game execution
After going on an 11-0 run to tie the game at 66 with 1:40 to go in the game, the Hawkeye offense hit the skids. The Illini stopped the run with a Malcolm Hill jumper 25 seconds later. The next possession for Iowa ended with a 16-foot, off-the-dribble fadeaway jumper from Mike Gesell that missed badly. The Hawkeyes got the stop that they needed at the other end, but on their ensuing possession Iowa's long developing play resulted in Gesell losing the ball on the floor and Illinois forcing a jump ball. Fran McCaffery called a timeout to set up an inbounds play underneath the basket. None of the Hawkeyes could get open and Gesell's attempt to find Dom Uhl around midcourt resulted in a turnover.
It was an ugly series of possessions that's become a bit of a trend for the veteran group lately. Similar poor execution doomed them in recent games against Ohio State and Indiana.
3. Jalen Coleman-Lands continues his hot shooting
The freshman guard opened up the Big Ten Tournament going 3-4 from three-point range on Wednesday against Minnesota. The Indianapolis native must enjoy playing in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, apparently, because he was 5-10 from distance on Thursday. It was an uncharacteristic low scoring output from Hill on Thursday. Coleman-Lands, Morgan, and Nunn backed up their star with a combined 47 points.
4. How far can the Illini go?
The bracket set up nicely for the 12 seed with an opening round game against a depleted Minnesota team and a second round game against the Hawkeyes, who came in to the BTT stumbling. They're playing confidently and they'll face Purdue in the quarterfinals on Friday. The Boilermakers might be playing their best basketball of the season, but in the only meeting between the two, Illinois surgically dissected the Boiler defense on their way to an 84-70 victory. KenPom only gives them a 15% chance to win, but it should be a close contest.
5. How do the Hawkeyes recover?
It's been a nightmare of a month for Iowa. They've now lost six of their last eight games as they head into NCAA Tournament. Back in February, the consensus of bracketologists had them in line for a 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA Tourney. At this point, they're staring a 6 or 7 seed right in the face. If they're going to have any success next weekend, they'll need their supporting cast to be A LOT better. Peter Jok and Jarrod Uthoff combined for 50 of the team's 66 points on Thursday. The rest of the team went 6-30 from the floor. Quite a few of those were made after Jok fouled out of the game on a technical foul with a little over 4 minutes to go. When they were at their best in January and early February, the danger of this team was all of their weapons that could consistently hit open shots. Two-man teams are not a recipe for success in March.