Michigan basketball is now second in the Big Ten conference standings, a far cry from where many predicted the Wolverines would be before league play started.
The Wolverines eked out a road win against Minnesota, and then beat a couple of basement-dwellers before knocking off then #3 Wisconsin. It was officially Michigan’s best road win of all time, and it came as the result of a total team effort.
Michigan still has to play a couple of Top Ten teams before they can get to the softer part of their schedule. The much anticipated rivalry game against Michigan State is Saturday, but the Wolverines will have to take on a talented Iowa Hawkeyes team later tonight at the Crisler Center.
Iowa comes into tonight’s game only having lost 3 games, and only one in conference play. They lost at Wisconsin in a game best remembered for head coach Fran McCaffery losing his cool and being ejected.
Michigan and Iowa share a common opponent in the loss column, the Cyclones of Iowa State. Both teams led for much of the game before “Hilton Magic” turned the tide in favor of ISU.
The Hawkeyes have since recovered from the losses, and are playing very efficient basketball. They score the 5th most points per game in the country, and the shots they do miss, they rebound. Iowa has the 3rd most rebounds per game in the nation.
Iowa is an incredibly deep team, with 10 players averaging more than five points per game. All ten of those players get at least 10 minutes a game, so McCaffery never has to worry about keeping his players fresh.
Despite a subpar shooting percentage, Roy Devyn Marble is Iowa’s leading scorer. The senior and Michigan native is also a force on defense, averaging over two steals a game.
Another key cog in the Hawkeyes rotation is big man Aaron White. Averaging 14 points a game to go along with 6 rebounds, the forward is hitting an incredible 65% of his shots.
This team is reminscint of the Florida State team Michigan face early in the season. Both teams were tall and lengthy. Iowa starts 4 players standing over 6’6.’’ The only difference is that Iowa is a much better offensive basketball team than FSU.
Keys For Michigan:
However, Michigan comes into the game riding a seven-game win streak and the confidence that comes after defeating the third-ranked team in their arena. The Wolverines also have the benefit of playing in Crisler, where they have only lost two games in the past two years.
Nik Stauskas emerged as the alpha dog against the Badgers, scoring the last 11 points, including a cold-blooded stepback three-pointer that put the game out of reach.
He had a lot of help from his supporting cast, however. The duo of Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford combined for a work-man like 12 points and 15 rebounds. Caris LeVert had his all-around best game of the season, chipping in 20 points and seven rebounds. Glenn Robinson III also had a strong game, quietly adding 14 points for Michigan.
Michigan has to be able to slow Iowa’s tempo, as they love to run the ball up the floor and take shots early in the shot clock. The Wolverines would do fine offensively in an up-tempo game, but their transition defense has been porous.
Michigan also has to work to keep the lengthy Iowa forwards off the boards. While Morgan and Horford have done better in that area this year than in years past, Iowa will present a much tougher challenge than any team they have faced so far.
Prediction Time: Michigan defends home court and defeats the Hawkeyes, 83-76.
The game is on the Big Ten Network at 7 o’clock.
For more Michigan Basketball news, recruiting updates and opinion, visit our Michigan Basketball page.
If you would like to receive an email notification each time a Michigan Basketball story is posted you can fill out the Email Notification Form.