Michigan (20-10, 10-7 B1G) vs
Iowa (20-9, 11-6)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||8 pm ET, Saturday|
|LINE||Iowa -1 (KenPom)|
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]
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.
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.
|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.]
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.
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).
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.