It’s no secret around Big Ten country that the Iowa basketball team has been struggling as of late.
After Tuesday night’s loss at Minnesota, a performance where defense was apparently optional, the 20th ranked Hawkeyes fell to 8-6 in conference play. Instead of solidifying a third place position and a first round bye in the upcoming Big Ten tournament, Iowa’s poor stretch has left it stuck in a three team fight for fourth heading down the stretch.
The Hawkeyes haven’t necessarily had a game where every that could go wrong did go wrong, but rather they’ve just been unable to put together multiple phases of the game on a single night. The most consistent performer has been senior guard Devyn Marble, but after a 19 point first half against Minnesota even he had trouble sustaining success to close out the game.
On the other hand it was a great sign for Iowa fans that Aaron White seemed to get out of his recent funk and start playing aggressive again. The 6-9 forward finished with a highly efficient 21 points to go along with nine rebounds and three steals. White’s assertiveness moving forward will play huge role in the success of the Hawkeyes.
Normally Iowa would have to wait until the weekend to hit the hardwood again following a Tuesday night contest. However, due to last week’s postponement of a game at Indiana the Hawkeyes will have to chance to get back on track sooner than usual.
Immediately following Tuesday night’s defeat coach Fran McCaffery and his squad hopped on a plane and headed to Bloomington, Indiana in preparation for the quick turnaround against the Hoosiers. Depending on how you look at it, this is either the best or worst thing that could have happened to the Hawkeyes right now.
Do you prefer grinding on the practice floor to address recent mistakes, or getting back into game action as soon as possible to move on from the sting of prior defeat? Hopefully for the sake of Iowa fans, their team is in favor of the latter of those two options.
In Indiana, the Hawkeyes will be faced with a road opponent that has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Win or lose, the Hoosiers’ chances at an NCAA Tournament bid are at best slim to none, but a loss would effectively tie the storied program for last place in the conference standings. If I know anything about Tom Crean and his Indiana ball club, expect the home team to come out swinging tonight.
Both teams need a win in the worst way, which would suggest that it will probably come down to who wants it more. If the Hawkeyes can be that team in an always hostile road environment at Assembly Hall it will say a lot about the resolve of this squad.
Iowa hadn’t lost back-to-back games all season before Tuesday night’s defeat at Minnesota. If I had to guess I would say this team has no intention of letting that streak reach three.
Look for a zeroed in effort tonight from the Hawkeyes, especially on the defensive end of the floor. I’ll go with Iowa 74, Indiana 63.