||Michigan v. Iowa
||2:30 PM EST
March 11th, 2010
||ESPN2 (O'Brien, Lavin)
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
When Last We Met
Michigan has defeated Iowa both times they've matched up this year, coming away with a comfortable 14-point win in Crisler Arena, and winning in overtime in Iowa City. Make no mistake: The Hawkeyes are a bad team. However, there are a couple reasons to expect Michigan to face some difficulty in knocking them off this afternoon.
As you'll hear an obnoxious number of times this week, it's difficult to beat one team three times in a single season. Considering that Michigan scraped by Iowa last time they met (after toying with the Hawkeyes in the first contest), that adage likely applies in this situation. Seeing as how both teams are playing to extend their seasons, however briefly that may be, and Iowa just may be able to bring more to the table than Michigan.
This first-round match is a throwback to the last two years, when Michigan has knocked of the Hawkeyes to open the Big Ten Tournament each season.
Michigan has been painfully inconsistent over the course of this season, alternating big wins (or near-misses) with demoralizing losses. At their best, they're probably capable of beating anyone. At their worst, well, you've seen it enough times this season to know. Is it possible for the Good Wolverines to come out and play enough games to make the postseason? Probably not, but it should be likely for them to beat the Hawkeyes.
Michigan has bounced back strong several times this year after suffering big losses, and they'll hope that the same thing happens today. It might be late in the season for this, but I hope that they also learn it's their responsibility to earn the bounceback; it's not just going to happen naturally.
"One game at a time" is a particularly annoying piece of coachspeak, but the way John Beilein describes it, there's no better description of the situation Michigan finds themselves in right now. There's now use in worrying about winning four straight games to keep the season going, because looking past one opponent can mean the untimely end of the season. The team simply has to focus on taking care of the next game (four times in a row), and if they're blessed to make it to the next round, they'll climb that mountain when they come to it.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Iowa: National Ranks
|Mich eFG% v. Iowa Def eFG%
|Mich Def eFG% v. Iowa eFG%
|Mich TO% v. Iowa Def TO%
|Mich Def TO% v. Iowa TO%
|Mich OReb% v. Iowa DReb%
|Mich DReb% v. Iowa OReb%
|Mich FTR v. Iowa Opp FTR
|Mich Opp FTR v. Iowa FTR
|Mich AdjO v. Iowa AdjD
|Mich AdjD v. Iowa AdjO
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
Aaron Fuller has been a boss when Michigan has faced Iowa so far this year, and containing him is going to be priority number one. Shortly after that is "not allowing the Hawkeyes to shoot nearly 50% from behind the arc," a goal that goes hand-in-hand with keeping Matt Gatens in check. Michigan is a far superior team outside those two, and controlling the ball will be a major key to the game.
Having beaten Iowa twice this year is bound to give Michigan some confidence, which they've lacked all season. It also means that the Hawkeyes will play with a serious chip on their shoulder. That hopefully won't obscure the fact that MIchigan is a far superior team (underachieving though they've been this season). DeShawn Sims should be able to have a field day, like he has every recent time Michigan has faced Iowa.
Ken Pomeroy predicts a 7-point Michigan victory, but for some reason I'm confident enough to say they'll beat Iowa by (slightly) more than that, emerging 9-10 point winners to take on Ohio State in round 2.
Since there's nothing left that could possibly be cursed (if Michigan loses, the season is over. If Michigan wins, it's probably over tomorrow anyway), Liveblogs shall make their triumphant return this afternoon. We'll get started here around 2:15.