The Big Ten only has one game on Monday night, but it’s one with significant postseason implications for one of the teams as Northwestern goes on the road to face Iowa. It figures to be a nice tune up game for a red hot Hawkeye squad.
Let’s take a look at the slate.
Game of the Day:
-Northwestern Wildcats at No. 25 Iowa Hawkeyes
- Time/TV: 8:00 PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Iowa by 10
It’s been an odd season for both sides in this matchup. While Iowa’s overall metrics are encouraging, it’s been a bit of a rough ride. The Hawkeyes spent much of the season searching for marquee wins before getting a few over the last week and are now looking to add to their resume over the final days of the regular season. Meanwhile, Northwestern has underwhelmed, but has been a tougher team than most expected, routinely battling better opponents until the final seconds. It all sets up for a fun matchup on Monday night.
Obviously, Iowa has significantly more riding on this game than Northwestern. The Hawkeyes have already locked up an NCAA bid and need to avoid any bad losses moving forward to maintain their projected seeding line. However, Northwestern does have some investment, hoping to build momentum going into the postseason and earning its way out of the dreaded Wednesday matchups of the Big Ten Tournament.
The game itself will almost certainly rest on how Northwestern defends Iowa’s high profile offense. The Hawkeyes boast a top five offense and are led by do-it-all wing Keegan Murray. Northwestern has played solid defense this year (58th nationally), but certainly not on the level of Iowa’s offense. It’s going to be up to players like Chase Audige and Robbie Beran to make their presence felt.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on Iowa’s defense, which has quietly played pretty good basketball over the last few weeks. The unit has been Iowa’s Achilles Heel in recent years, so any improvement there would be noteworthy. It’s the biggest obstacle holding back Iowa from making noise in March.
All told, this should be a fun game. Northwestern has the pieces to hang in for awhile. However, expect Iowa to pull away as things continue and get another win.
- Pick: Iowa