Preview: Iowa Comment Count

Ace March 4th, 2016 at 2:38 PM

THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT Michigan (20-10, 10-7 B1G) vs
Iowa (20-9, 11-6)
WHERE Crisler Center
Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN 8 pm ET, Saturday
LINE Iowa -1 (KenPom)
TV BTN
PBP: Joe Davis
Analyst: John Crispin

Right: Sadly fitting that our best picture of Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht together doesn't feature them in uniform. [Patrick Barron/MGoBlog]

THE US

Tomorrow is Senior Day, an even more bittersweet experience than usual this year because both seniors, Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht, have season-ending injuries. For those attending the game, you're encouraged to show up early; the pregame ceremony starts at 7:45.

While LeVert is going to prepare for the NBA when he's healthy again, Albrecht could conceivably get a medical redshirt and play another year if there's a scholarship available. That's on the table, though it doesn't sound too likely:

On a conversation with Coach Beilein about a potential return: “I haven’t really had a conversation with him about it, just because I know like you guys know with the scholarship situation and things like that, but I know at this time that I’m not feeling good and I’m not ready to play. I always told him that I’m not going to use up a scholarship if I don’t think I can play and help. I won’t be making that decision until after the season, I don’t want to distract him more than anyone else.

: /

THE STAKES

Michigan is clinging to one of the final at-large bids in most NCAA Tournament projections. A victory over Iowa—even this patented late-season collapse version—should secure a place in the field. A loss and it'll be a nerve-wracking conference tournament; speaking of which, M is locked into the BTT eight-seed.

THE LAST TIME

Back when the Hawkeyes looked like a candidate for a one-seed, they beat Michigan by 11 in Iowa City, led by Jarrod Uthoff (23 points) and Peter Jok (16). While the Wolverines put up a strong 1.13 points per possesion, they allowed 1.30 to Iowa—the Hawkeyes lit it up from the field and only committed four turnovers.

THE LINEUP CARD

Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss SIBMIHHAT
G 10 Mike Gesell Sr. 6'2, 190 74 19 No
#30 assist rate nationally, low-volume but effective shooter, high FT rate.
G 5 Anthony Clemmons Sr. 6'2, 200 74 18 Kinda
Solid passer, decent finisher, outside shot is iffy (31% 3P).
G 14 Peter Jok Jr. 6'6, 205 65 25 No
Good athlete with solid jumper, getting to line more. 2nd in B1G in steal rate.
F 20 Jarrod Uthoff Sr. 6'9, 221 77 26 No
8th in KPOY standings. 47/39/81 shooting splits, excellent shot-blocker.
C 34 Adam Woodbury Sr. 7'1, 250 62 17 Very
Plus rebounder, skilled around the basket, might poke you in the eye.
F 25 Dom Uhl So. 6'9, 215 44 19 No
Backup big hits 47% of threes, hits offensive boards. Not a good finisher.
F 51 Nicholas Baer R-Fr. 6'7, 200 36 14 No
Efficient gunner (61% 2P, 43% 3P) also a decent shot-blocker.
F 0 Ahmad Wagner Fr. 6'7, 225 24 14 Very
Shoots 69% on twos, good rebounder and shot-blocker.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]

THE THEM

After starting Big Ten play with a 10-1 record that included pairs of wins over both Michigan State and Purdue, Iowa has lost five of their last six games—neither team on Saturday will be riding the proverbial wave of momentum. Despite the collapse-in-progress, Iowa's rotations has remained relatively unchanged. I've updated the previous game's personnel preview:

The Hawkeyes starting lineup features four seniors and a junior, all of whom have played extensive time prior to this season. They're led by power forward Jarrod Uthoff, who's an effective scorer from just about anywhere. He's posting 47/39/81 shooting splits with a decent free-throw rate.

Uthoff combines that efficiency with high usage, minimal turnovers, decent rebounding, and one of the best shot-blocking rates in the country; put it all together and he currently ranks eighth in KenPom's Player of the Year standings. This is another game where Zak Irvin will have to expend considerable energy on defense.

The man getting Uthoff the ball tends to be point guard Mike Gesell, who has the 30th-best assist rate in the country. While he doesn't take a lot of shots, he's been very good from beyond the arc, and he's become a decent finisher who gets to the line often. He's joined in the backcourt by Anthony Clemmons, a mediocre shooter with an assist rate in point guard territory, and Peter Jok, an impressive athlete with a developing jumper and an aggressive brand of defense for better (lots of steals) or worse (lots of blow-bys when he doesn't get those steals).

Manning the middle is the notorious Adam Woodbury, an excellent rebounder with skill around the basket and a reputation for playing right on the edge of dirty. He rotates with Dom Uhl, who's more of a stretch four type and quite adept in that role; while he's only made 40% of his twos, he's 24/51 from beyond the arc, and he's a solid rebounder.

Forward Nick Baer (61% 2P, 43% 3P) has become a dangerous bench scorer and fan favorite. Fellow freshman Ahmad Wagner is a reliable inside finisher with good rebounding and shot-blocking numbers who's coming off an 11-point, nine-rebound performance in a loss to Indiana.

THE TEMPO-FREE

Conference-only stats.


Four Factors explanation

Iowa's offense relies heavily on their league-best ability to avoid turnovers and get to the free-throw line. They're really struggling inside the arc, shooting 47% on twos in Big Ten play (10th in the conference), and their three-point shooting has cooled off of late, though they're still hitting a solid 38%.

The Hawkeye defense has had a bigger dropoff since the first matchup. Big Ten opponents are making a hair under 50% of their twos and rebounding nearly a third of their misses. Iowa avoids fouling and forces their fair share of turnovers, but they haven't held an opponent below a point per possession in nearly a month (Illinois, Feb. 7).

THE KEYS

Contain Jok. Jarrod Uthoff is going to get his points one way or another; Zak Irvin actually did a decent job in the first game of forcing Uthoff to work for his production—his 23 points came on 21 shot equivalents. Peter Jok, meanwhile, had far too much space to work with on the perimeter, and he burned Michigan with 16 points while makign 4/6 three-pointers. Michigan's wings have to do a better job of tracking his movement off the ball.

Make them work. Iowa relies more on free-throws for their points than any other team in the conference. All five of their starters are ranked in the top 25 in the Big Ten in FT rate. It's especially important for Irvin to avoid foul trouble; if he's not on the floor to defend Uthoff, Michigan is in trouble.

Attack the paint. While Michigan settled for a lot of outside jumpers in the first matchup, there's reason to believe they'll have success attacking the basket tomorrow night—they made 15/26 twos in the first game and Iowa's defense has fallen off considerably since then. It might be up to Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman to create that offense inside the arc, as Irvin will be expending a ton of energy on the other side of the floor and Derrick Walton simply hasn't been effective in that regard.

THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES

Iowa by 1.

Iowa's combination of size and outside shooting should be enough for them to get the win, but with these two teams, who really knows? It's not hard to see this being a very competitive game or a laugher in either direction.

ELSEWHERE

UMHoops preview.

Comments

MH20

March 4th, 2016 at 3:08 PM ^

Wichita State is currently in a dogfight with Loyola Chicago late in the second half.  Seeing as the Shockers are in all 83 of the Bracket Matrix entries, them not winning the MVC Tournament is not a good thing for bubble teams.

Wolverine In Iowa 68

March 4th, 2016 at 3:10 PM ^

The emotion of Spike and Caris having their final moments could really lift the team.  If that happens, I could see the possibility of us pulling this off.  Not counting on it, but it's a definite possibility.

Feel bad for both of them.  Having to spend the season injured when they both want to be on the floor helping the team has to be incredibly rough.  I wish both Caris and Spike all the best for their futures, whatever it might hold.

GO BLUE!

WolverineHistorian

March 4th, 2016 at 4:46 PM ^

*sigh*. This may be the most depressing senior day ever. Caris and Spike are not only great players but extremely likable guys. They will be missed.

Also, how sad is it that Iowa has lost 4 of their last 5 (which includes a loss to Penn State) and they're STILL favored to beat us?

Boner Stabone

March 4th, 2016 at 5:12 PM ^

My motto for tomorrow's game is straight from Harbaugh  "Hungry dogs hunt best"

If this team doesn't come out tomorrow with a little something extra, I will be very disappointed not only with the team, but for the coaching staff not having these guys ready tomorrow.  This is by far their biggest game of the season.

Wolvie3758

March 4th, 2016 at 7:35 PM ^

Sadly, I havent seen anything from this team that would lead me to believe they will win this game..Im just hoping and wishing that perhaps they will play inspired enthusiastic gritty hard working, ball stealing tough defense......Hey one can dream cant one?

OkemosBlue

March 4th, 2016 at 9:08 PM ^

I think Michigan wins-or is at least the favorite.  This is a great article but (you knew this was coming) why do so many Michigan fans always assume Michigan should win every football game by 20, or in this case, have a "patented late season collapse."  It's not a collapse, it's a result of facing a more difficult schedule without two projected senior starters, including one potential all-American, as others have pointed out numerous times.  Give the other side some credit and be humble.  I don't suppose that Michigan fans are particularly worse than other fans at national powers, but for some reason I like to think we are better this way.

SagNasty

March 5th, 2016 at 11:26 AM ^

Just find a way to win. No long scoring droughts, play solid defense, make the plays when needed. There is no reason this team should not win this game. Home court, backs against the wall. Get it done and punch your ticket to the dance.

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Cr64

March 5th, 2016 at 9:15 PM ^

I think the Iowa game, along with a 2-15 record against Wisconsin, for God's sake, should be enough to run this Division II coach out of town.....but it won't