The Michigan Wolverines (17-5, 9-1) travel to Carver-Hawkeye Arena Saturday to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes (17-6, 6-4) for the second time this season. The Wolverines emerged victorious in the first meeting, winning 75-67. What have these teams done since then? Iowa has gone 2-2, losing to Ohio State and Michigan State while beating Illinois and Northwestern. Michigan has gone 3-1, beating Michigan State, Nebraska, and Purdue, while losing at Indiana.
Currently these two teams occupy two of the top three spots in the Big Ten standings. To say that this game has large implications in the conference championship race is an understatement. A loss for Iowa would all but eliminate them from contention. A loss for Michigan would put Michigan State back in the driver’s seat in the B1G. There is certainly enough motivation for both of these teams to bring their A-game, and we should see a well-played game between two talented teams.
Keys for Iowa
First and foremost, they have to slow down Nik Stauskas. In the previous meeting between these two teams, Stauskas dropped 26 points on the Hawkeyes, going 8-14 from the floor with 4 three pointers.
Speaking of three pointers, the Hawkeyes need to do a better job shooting the ball from long range against Michigan. Iowa shot
20% against Michigan in the first meeting, which is pretty poor considering that Michigan struggles to guard the perimeter at times.
Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa’s leading scorer, had 13 against the Wolverines in the first game although he only went 3-9 from the floor. It is important that he is more efficient with the basketball against Michigan this time around.
Iowa also needs their bench to perform better on Saturday. Against Michigan in the first meeting, Iowa’s bench combined to go 4 for 13 from the floor, totaling 8 points.
Keys for Michigan
Iowa had 6 more free throw attempts than Michigan in the first meeting. The Wolverines need to attack the rim against Iowa on Saturday. Sometimes Michigan can settle for shooting nothing but threes, but tomorrow they need to get aggressive and draw some whistles.
Speaking of shooting threes, they need to be more selective and efficient with their long-range shots than they were the first time around. The Wolverines shot 27 threes against Iowa, but only hit 8. This is 10% lower than their season average. They need to be better from 3.
Derrick Walton Jr. only played 3 minutes against Iowa in the first meeting after he was ill the week leading up to the game. His presence tomorrow will make things tougher for Iowa, and if he can get things going offensively the Wolverines will be in good shape.
Even though this game is on the road, I think the Wolverines are just too talented for Iowa. After losing in frustrating fashion to Indiana, Michigan annihilated Nebraska. I think Michigan stays on a roll against Iowa. I pick Michigan to win 78-68.