On Sunday at 6:00 ET, the 17th-ranked Indiana Hoosiers (16-5, 4-5) return to Bloomington to face the Iowa Hawkeyes (11-10, 3-5) on the Big Ten Network.
As always, Jerod, Ryan, and Andy will be here with another episode of The Assembly Call as soon as the game ends with instant analysis and fan reaction.
- Date: Sunday, January 29th
- Time: 6:00 ET, 5:00 CT
- TV: BTN
- Announcers: Eric Collins and Dan Bonner
- Point Spread: Indiana by 11.5
- Over-Under: 151
- KenPom Prediction: Indiana 89-70 with 92% chance of winning
- Peegs: IU Gameday
- Inside the Hall: What to Expect – Iowa
- IU-Penn State live tweet coverage: @AssemblyCall
- Assembly Call IU Postgame Show: http://assemblycall.com/live
It’s been an up-and-down year for the Hawkeyes, who didn’t beat anyone of note in the non-conference and even lost to Campbell at home by 15 points. However, their three Big Ten wins have come at Wisconsin, at Minnesota, and home against Michigan, who they beat by 16 points. They’ve also been swept by Purdue and lost to Ohio State and Michigan State by a combined 63 points. Most recently, the Hawkeyes fell to Nebraska at home by a 79-73 score after allowing the Huskers to score 48 points in the second half.
Iowa comes in with the worst defensive efficiency in the Big Ten, an honor (or maybe a dishonor) the Hoosiers held until recently. Interestingly enough, they have allowed opponents to shoot just 29.0 percent from behind the arc, but they are allowing 56.5 percent shooting on two-pointers, which ranks dead last in the conference.
The Hawkeyes don’t force many turnovers and have been victimized on the offense glass, leaving their relatively low opponents’ free throw rate as one of their only positives on the defensive end. Consequently, it’s reasonable to expect the Hoosiers to employ a similar gameplan as they did versus Wisconsin when they shot just eight three-pointers and attacked more off the dribble.
On offense, Iowa wants to push the tempo and plays at the second-fastest pace in league play. They have been effective at drawing fouls and getting to the line, and they’ve done a nice job on the offensive glass, thanks in large part to the efforts of Aaron White and Zach McCabe. Outside of that, the Hawkeyes rank seventh or worse in the conference in shooting percentage on two-pointers, three-pointers, and free throws, and their turnover rate is in the middle of the pack.
Eight Iowa players scored at least 6.0 points per game, led by Matt Gatens and Roy Devyn Marble with 13.2 and 11.3 points, respectively. Gatens has at least 11 points in 10 of the last 12 games, and he also leads the Hawkeyes in steals. Marble has stepped up his scoring of late with 58 points in the last four games, and while his shooting percentages aren’t great, he’s second on the team in assists and steals. He also has a low turnover rate and has been adept at getting to the line.
The aforementioned White and McCabe team with sophomore Melsahn Basabe give the Hawkeyes some solid options in the frontcourt. White, a 6-foot-8 freshman, has consistently given the team a lift off the bench and averages 9.7 points and 4.9 boards in just under 20 minutes per game. His rebounding percentages are good on both ends of the floor, and he’s drawing nearly six fouls per 40 minutes. McCabe is coming off of back-to-back 20-point efforts where he has gone a combined 16-of-24 from the field. Meanwhile, Basabe’s numbers have fallen off in his second season, but he’s still a solid rebounder and inside threat.
The Hoosiers are coming off of a disappointing loss to Wisconsin, but it was also their best defensive performance of the conference season. While Iowa isn’t particularly explosive offensively, IU can’t afford a relapse into their defensive funk from earlier Big Ten games, and they have to get back in transition to prevent easy baskets.
Given Iowa’s struggles to defend two-pointers, a heavy dose of Cody Zeller is a given, but the freshman needs to stay out of foul trouble and do a better job of establishing post position. He was plagued by foul trouble against Wisconsin and managed just seven points and three rebounds.
The Hoosiers got 12 big points from Verdell Jones III in the first half of the Wisconsin game, but he struggled after the break. They need him to attack the basket as he did during the first 20 minutes of that game against a struggling Iowa defense.
Other key players to watch for IU are Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey, who combined for just four points on 2-of-10 shooting. Oladipo hasn’t been playing with as much confidence of late, and his offensive struggles are starting to impact his defense as well. Sheehey, on the other hand, did a terrific job defending Jordan Taylor in the Wisconsin game but couldn’t get anything rolling offensively despite playing 25 minutes, his second-highest total of the season.
Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls have each had big games against the Hawkeyes during their careers, with Watford hanging 30 on them in the first matchup last season while Hulls went for 24 in the second.
Ultimately this is a solid matchup for the Hoosiers. On defense, Iowa consistently allows a lot of points and doesn’t force many turnovers, and on offense, they aren’t overly explosive thanks to their relatively poor shooting percentages. The Hoosiers need to make sure they protect the defensive glass for 40 minutes and avoid making silly fouls to keep Iowa’s offense from getting easy points.
As I said before the Penn State game, this is one the Hoosiers simply have to win, not only to get back to .500 in league play but also to exercise the demons of the last few games against Iowa. They need to jump on a relatively young Hawkeye team early and show some killer instinct, which would give the Hoosiers a dose of confidence heading into a pair of key road games against Michigan and Purdue.