What Have They Done This Year
Iowa is justifiably giddy right now. They are 15-3 (4-3 Big Ten) and have won their last 4 Big Ten games with wins at home against Nebraska and Ohio State — both ranked — and road wins at Northwestern and Penn State. However, prior to the win streak, they did lose their first three games in the Big Ten (at Michigan St and Purdue, and home to Wisconsin), but they have rebounded from that potentially ruinous start and now look poised to become a team nobody wants to dance with in March.
In out-of-conference play, the Hawkeyes are an impressive 11-0 with wins over Oregon, UConn, and Iowa State. So yeah, Iowa sounds legit.
What Do Stats Tell Us
I’ll let our friends at Black Heart Gold Pants fill us in:
[Iowa is] currently 11th in adjusted offensive efficiency (up from 14th prior to the PSU game) and 86th in adjusted defensive efficiency (down from 82nd). In Ken Pom’s history (2002), 14 out of 17 teams with an offensive efficiency between 10th and 20th and a defensive efficiency between 75th and 100th have gotten into the tournament.
So, what do these stats tell us? For starters, Iowa is very good offensively and good enough defensively. But more importantly, Iowa looks like a team that dictates how the game will be played. Iowa’s defense might be porous at times but this appears to be a by-product of Iowa’s offensive orientation.
The Hawkeyes’ priority is offense, but Iowa has vastly improved since last year because they have taught their players how to hustle on the defensive end and be disciplined in their defensive assignments.
Players to Watch
The Hawkeyes best player has been Tyler Cook — a 6-foot-9, 250-pound power forward from St. Louis. He averages 17.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and is the most essential piece of the Haweyes’ attack. But, Cook missed Wednesday Night’s win at Penn State with an ankle injury. The Hawkeyes still impressed as Luka Garza picked up the scoring slack in Cook’s absence.
Garza is a 6-foot-11, 245-pound forward from Washington, D.C. who perfectly complements Cook by averaging 13.5 points a game and 5.8 rebounds a game. From there, the Hawkeyes rely on the steady shooting of Guards Jordan Bohannon, a 6-foot-1 Junior from Marion, IA, and Joe Wieskamp— a 6-foot-4 freshman from Muscatine, IA. Bohanon and Wieskamp both average 11.3 points per game.
When you put these 4 players in a bender, it spits out an inside-outside attack reminiscent of what Michigan uses to crush opponents.
The Illini will be able to build off the momentum of the blowout win over Minnesota. Expect the Illini to come in confidently and score on an average Iowa defense. But Iowa’s tremendous offense will be too much and will make just enough plays down the stretch to win.
IOWA 83, ILLINOIS 77
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