Preview: Iowa

Submitted by Tim on February 19th, 2011 at 9:32 AM

The Essentialsiowahoops.jpg

WHAT Michigan v. Iowa
WHERE Iowa City, IA
WHEN 3:30 PM CST
4:30 Real Life Time
February 19th, 2011
THE LINE Michigan -2.5.
TELEVISION BTN (Eric Collins, Tim Doyle)

The Story

As Brian said on WTKA Thursday, the outcome of the Illinois game doesn't have a huge negative effect on the tournament chances, except it's one hell of a "lack of positive" effect. Like missing a late goal trailing in a hockey game, it's the coulda-been point where it starts feeling like the thing is really over.

Michigan is now in serious need of an RPI top-50 win, and with four games left, there are only three options: 1) Beat Wisconsin. 2) Beat Minnesota and hope they end up in the top-50. 3) Beat Michigan State and hope the Spartans end up in the top-50. As much as it hurts to cheer for Sparty, #3 would be a huge benefit, because it would give Michigan two wins over a top-50 squad, including one on the road.

Until the fat lady does her thing, this is This Most Important Game of the Year Until The Next Game. The contest of Iowa isn't necessarily a "must-win," but it's definitely a "can't-lose," and since there are only two possible outcomes, well, I guess it's a must-win if Michigan wants to keep their tournament dream alive. A loss doesn't kill it, but means it would be necessary to sweep their final three regular season games (which, I hope they plan to win this one AND sweep the final three), and/or make a conference tourney run.

Last time around, Melsahn Basabe had a coming-out party, reaching a season-high point total (25), while pulling down 8 rebounds and notching a pair of blocks. Not to be outdone, Darius Morris recorded a triple-double, and the Wolverines got the last laugh with a comfortable win in Crisler Arena.

Since then, Michigan has shown that they've snapped out of their midseason malaise, but Iowa has proven that they're no pushover (who knows how they'll react after officially losing the chance to go .500 by losing to Northwestern on Thursday). There are no easy wins in NCAA basketball's toughest conference, especially on the road. Time to earn it.

Tempo-Free Breakdown

With a few games under each teams' belts, it's finally reasonable to look at the stats. If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.

Michigan v. Iowa: National Ranks
Category Michigan Rank Iowa Rank Advantage
Mich eFG% v. Iowa Def eFG% 65 182 MM
Mich Def eFG% v. Iowa eFG% 176 181 -
Mich TO% v. Iowa Def TO% 19 67 M
Mich Def TO% v. Iowa TO% 238 261 M
Mich OReb% v. Iowa DReb% 319 191 II
Mich DReb% v. Iowa OReb% 41 95 M
Mich FTR v. Iowa Opp FTR 342 7 IIII
Mich Opp FTR v. Iowa FTR 56 269 MMM
Mich AdjO v. Iowa AdjD 54 48 -
Mich AdjD v. Iowa AdjO 66 140 M

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.

The Wolverines dominate the tempo-free stats, and Iowa's only big advantages are in rebounding Michigan misses and not sending John Beilein's squad to the free throw line. To sum it up, Iowa has a very slight advantage on Michigan's end of the court, and Michigan has a pretty hefty advantage when they're playing D.

So I spent a lot of the Illinois preview spilling words on how Michigan had turned into a pretty good offensive team during Big Ten play, and they managed to mae me eat my words by missing EVERYTHING on Wednesday night. A lot of that came from playing the #1 eFG% defense in the Big Ten, but even the open shots just weren't falling that night.

If Stu Douglass (54.7 eFG% on the year, 22.7 against Illinois), Zack Novak (55.2 this year, 42.9 Wednesday), and Darius Morris (52.5 season, 33.3 Wednesday) can snap out of their shooting funk, Michigan should be able to roll on the road. If Jordan Morgan can keep up his excellent form of late, that's icing on the cake.

Elsewhere

Dylan previews the Hawkeyes on UMHoops. Brian's postgame from last time around, and the UMHoops version of same.

Predictions

I'm willing - based on 26 other games of evidence - to believe that the shooting performance was just a really bad night, and it won't be repeated against a much worse defensive team than the Illini. Keeping Melsahn Basabe from repeating his performance from Crisler Arena will be the bigger key to this game. Ken Pomeroy likes the Hawkeyes this afternoon, but I think Michigan emerges from Carver-Hawkeye with the 70-61 victory.

Comments

aiglick

February 19th, 2011 at 9:50 AM ^

There is another option in terms of top 50 RPI potential options. PSU is 59 right now with games against Minnesota, OSU, Wisconsin, and NU. If they win two of those they may break the barrier. I'm not sure we would want them to get to three or more because that would give th at least 10 wins in conference. However, the most overall wins they could get is 18 in regular season. Ultimately, the pros outweigh the cons. Beat Iowa today and Go Blue.

michfan4borw

February 19th, 2011 at 10:57 AM ^

I think Michigan is playing for more on the line and gets the win; 70-61 sounds good too, though I'd be not at all surprised if the differential is closer to 1-3 points. 

My roommate is an Iowa alum, and gauging his interest makes me think the fanbase is much less interested now in the Iowa team than it was a month ago after its win over MSU.  I think Michigan has a lot more to play for and wins, even though a road win in the big ten is always tough to get. 

Go Blue.

mgoSk

February 19th, 2011 at 1:10 PM ^

I could see how that gets annoying, but I like it when commentators give crazy play by play stuff, besides the butterfly nickname, he had me cracking up during the Illinois game with his incoherent stumbling style. He's an enthusiastic guy, I like him.

jmblue

February 19th, 2011 at 3:06 PM ^

The mustache is gone.  He was growing it as long as OSU was undefeated.

Aside from the "Butterfly" thing, I don't mind him.  He's very enthusiastic and can be genuinely funny at times.    

Wolverine In Iowa

February 19th, 2011 at 1:08 PM ^

My step-son (Hawkeye fan) and I are heading up to Iowa City for the game.  Should be fun, but I'm worried too -- Carver-Hawkeye Arena can be tough, but I think the Iowa fans are sort of worn out and won't be too loud.

Go Blue!!

Sir Guy

February 19th, 2011 at 5:11 PM ^

Michigan starts with a 14-4 lead.  Since then we're getting destroyed 21-6 with four left in the SAME HALF.  Why does this team continue to self-destruct?