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1/19 Big Ten Basketball Preview: Rutgers Hosts Iowa

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There is only one game set for tonight after the matchup between Minnesota and Penn State was postponed due to COVID protocols pertaining to the Gophers.

Minnesota, which was already shorthanded against Iowa due to injury, illness and protocols, fell under seven scholarship players this week. Their next game will take place on Saturday against Rutgers. Speaking of Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights host Iowa in tonight’s lone game.

Game of the Night

Iowa Hawkeyes at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Time/TV: 8:30 PM ET BTN

Last weekend the Hawkeyes beat a shorthanded Minnesota on the road. The Hawkeyes have gone 6-1 over the last seven games. Their four losses this year have came against Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa State, with three of those losses all taking place on the road. While the Hawkeyes have stayed relatively under the radar, there’s a pretty solid resume brewing. A lot of that success can be attributed to the emergence of Keegan Murray.

Murray is leading the team in scoring with 23.9 points, hitting just under 60% of his field goals and adding an additional 8.1 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 2.1 blocks per game. He’s been explosive and dynamic for an Iowa offense that remains potent. Fran McCaffery utilizes a wide variety of weapons on the offensive side of the ball, with only Murray averaging more than 25 minutes per game. With ten different players seeing legitimate minutes, the Hawkeyes are averaging 86.2 points per game while shooting 47.8% from the field. They’re only making 34.7% of their threes, a bit lower than expected, but have been limiting turnovers this year, only committing 8.8 per game. Their one weakness is once again their defense, or lack thereof, something that pales in comparison to their high flying offense.

Luckily for the Hawkeyes they’ll face a Rutgers team that isn’t the most dynamic team on offense. While Ron Harper Jr. has popped off at times, and leads the team with 16.6 points per game and 47% shooting from three, there aren’t that many offensive weapons that Iowa will have to worry about. The more interesting matchup will be if the Rutgers defense can step up and slow down the Iowa offense enough to pick up the win. The Scarlet Knights have done it before, edging Purdue and Michigan at home, but they’ve also gotten blown out in their last three losses.

Tonight should entertain anyone who loves to watch a good offense play a good defense. Thankfully if you’re a Hawkeyes fan it’s unlikely the Knights will have the firepower to hang with Murray and company. It might be a bit ugly, but Iowa should add another win to their resume.

Pick: Iowa