In the first day of the NCAA Tournament the Big Ten went 5-0. On the second day the conference will look to continue their unbeaten streak as three teams will play on the second day of the tournament.
#10 Iowa Hawkeyes vs #7 Cincinnati Bearcats
- Time/TV: 12:15 PM ET / CBS
- Spread: Cincinnati -3
The Hawkeyes ended the season with an absolute thud, closing the regular season with a four game losing streak that included a pair of 20 point losses and losses to Rutgers and Nebraska. While Iowa was able to knock off Illinois, they were then blown out once again by the Wolverines in the Big Ten Tournament. Head coach Fran McCaffery also felt the heat, getting suspended for two games after verbally going after a ref following the teams loss to the Buckeyes.
At least none of that matters anymore, with Iowa essentially getting a fresh slate as they face off against the Bearcats in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The first thing Iowa will need to remedy is their offensive woes they had towards the end of the season. The offense finally started showing more signs of life against Nebraska and Illinois before shooting 35.6% from the field and 6.3% from three against Michigan. Iowa has a relatively average offense when it comes to shooting from the field, but they get to the line a lot (801 attempts, 12th in the nation) to help rack up points. When everything is said and done the Hawkeyes led the Big Ten in scoring in conference play.
Of course Iowa’s offense is only half of the equation, with a defense that was ranked last in scoring in conference play, giving up 1.6 more points per game than they scored. Allowing opponents to shoot 54.7% from two and 46.1% from the field, the Hawkeyes have their issues slowing down opposing teams.
Luckily for Iowa they face a Cincinnati team that isn’t exactly an offensive powerhouse, finishing 241st in field goal percentage, 148th in three point percentage and 201st in scoring. Of course the Bearcats gave up 62.2 points per game, good for the 12th in the nation. So what we have here is a good Iowa offense going up against a very good Cincinnati defense...and a not so good Cincinnati offense facing off against a horrible Iowa defense.
If the Bearcats want to avoid the upset they’ll likely rely on Jarron Cumberland, who led the Bearcats with 18.8 points per game while shooting 39.1% from three. He’s by far the biggest offensive weapon for Cincinnati and the Bearcats will need him to help get the offense scoring. The Hawkeyes have had a more balanced approach with Tyler Cook, Luka Garza, Jordan Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp all averaging double figures.
Earlier in the season this would be a game a lot of people would feel confident about Iowa’s chances, especially considering Cincinnati’s not-very-good offense negates Iowa’s glaring weakness at defense. But the Hawkeyes have looked all out of sorts to close this season and the team doesn’t exactly have much momentum heading into the tourney. As for Cincinnati, they knocked off Houston to win the AAC Tournament and haven’t lost a game to a non-ranked team since the beginning of January when they lost to East Carolina by two.
While it should be relatively close, Cincinnati will likely keep it rolling and move on after edging Iowa today.
- Pick Against the Spread: Cincinnati