Indiana-Iowa Preview: Analysis, Point Spread, Prediction, TV Time and Announcers

On Sunday at 6:00 ET, the 20th-ranked Indiana Hoosiers (20-6, 8-6) hit the road to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes (13-13, 5-8), 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.

IU-Iowa Gameday Info

IU-Iowa Preview

Iowa

After losing by five at Penn State, the Hawkeyes have now dropped two straight and seven of their last 10 games.  Matt Gatens hit five three-pointers and scored 21 points to lead the team, while freshman Aaron White posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.  Iowa trailed by 14 at the half, but a late rally fell short against the Nittany Lions.

These two teams faced off on January 29th with the Hoosiers winning by a 103-89 score.  Indiana took advantage of poor Iowa defense and shot 55.2 percent from the field and 64.7 percent on two-pointers.  Cody Zeller used a flurry of dunks to score 26 points, and five other Hoosiers scored in double figures.  In the end, IU ended up scoring a staggering 1.39 points per possession.

Amazingly, that isn’t the highest mark surrendered by Iowa this season, or even in the past few weeks.  Northwestern scored 1.41 ppp in a blowout win on February 9th.  Consequently, the Hawkeyes rank 11th in the league in defensive efficiency.  They are last in defensive rebounding percentage, a weakness IU parlayed into 18 offensive boards in the first meeting.  Iowa also ranks 10th in turnover rate and eighth in effective field goal percentage defense, with a 54.2 percent two-point percentage the main culprit.

In all, eight of their 13 conference foes have scored at least 1.09 ppp, but it is worth noting that three of the other five performances came at home.  Even so, Iowa has been routinely shredded by high-powered offenses this year, so the Hoosiers shouldn’t have much trouble putting points on the board.

That being said, the Hawkeyes do have some offensive firepower and come in having scored at least 1.05 ppp in six of their last eight contests, including a 1.20 ppp performance against IU in Bloomington.  In league games, they rank first in free throw rate at 43.6 and fourth in offensive rebounding percentage, which is surprising based on their issues on the defensive glass.  The Hawkeyes shoot 35.5 percent from deep and are eighth in both effective field goal percentage and turnover rate.

Three Iowa players come in averaging in double figures and eight score at least 5.6 points per game.  Matt Gatens had tallied at least 11 points in nine straight games, including a pair of 20-point efforts in the past five contests.  He’s definitely a guy the Hoosiers can’t allow to get rolling from deep, as he comes in 8-of-12 from beyond the arc over the last two games.

While fellow freshmen Cody Zeller and Trey Burke have earned a lot of praise, Aaron White has quietly put together a strong season of his own.  He has scored at least nine points in the last nine games and has really stepped his game up recently with 16.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in the last three.

Outside of Gatens and White, Roy Devyn Marble has been the most consistent Hawkeye.  He has scored in double figures in eight of the last nine games and is second on the team in assists at 3.4 per game.  Other players like Melsahn Basabe, Zach McCabe, and Josh Oglesby, who scored 24 points in the first meeting with IU, have played well in stretches this season but have struggled to maintain consistency.

Since the Hawkeyes don’t shoot particularly well, it will be important for Indiana to defend without fouling and protect the defensive glass in order to prevent easy scoring chances.  Three-point defense will also be important, because guys like Gatens and Oglesby have the potential to get hot from beyond the arc.  Iowa also plays at the quickest pace of any Big Ten team, so transition defense will be critical.  The Hawkeyes got a number of easy baskets in the first meeting based on defensive breakdowns in transition.

Indiana

The Hoosiers come in on a three-game winning streak after executing late to beat Northwestern on Wednesday night.  Cody Zeller was fantastic with 23 points and seven rebounds on 9-of-11 shooting, but senior Verdell Jones was the difference in the game.  Jones returned from a shoulder injury to spark the Hoosiers with defense and timely scoring, finishing with six points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block in under 20 minutes of action.  The win gave Tom Crean his first 20-win season at IU.

As mentioned above, I don’t foresee the Hoosiers having trouble scoring in this game.  They rank first in overall efficiency and three-point shooting and second in effective field goal percentage, free throw rate, and free throw shooting, all of which will pay dividends against Iowa.  Perhaps most importantly, IU ranks third in offensive rebounding percentage, which should give Iowa plenty of issues on the glass.  They also come in full of confidence offensively after scoring at least 1.15 ppp in three straight and four of their last five.

As usual, Cody Zeller will present matchup problems for the opposition.  Iowa has very little bulk inside, which Cody was able to exploit repeatedly in the first meeting.  Over the last five games, he has made 33-of-47 (70.2%) from the field and is averaging 19.6 points and 6.4 boards.

Victor Oladipo continues to excel while playing more with the ball in his hands.  He has 53 points, 19 rebounds, and 11 assists over the past three games, but most importantly, his aggressiveness has led to 30 free throw attempts over that span.  Obviously now that Jones is back, Tom Crean faces a bit of a dilemma, but he has tended to take a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach with the lineup this year.  Jones can certainly provide value in a reserve role as she showed against Northwestern.

The Hoosiers will also be looking for a bounce back game from Jordan Hulls, who was held scoreless in 34 minutes against Northwestern.  Given Iowa’s struggles on defense, Hulls should be able to find openings and get back on track.

Indiana’s bench continued its solid play against Northwestern with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists.  In addition to Jones, fellow senior Tom Pritchard made a number of contributions, particularly on the glass where four of his six rebounds came on the offensive end.  Based on the expected pace of this game, depth will be a factor.

Defensively the Hoosiers have continued to show improvement in stretches, but they still rank eighth in the league in overall efficiencyand have allowed at least 1.06 ppp in five of their last six games.  Iowa was able to get a number of open looks in transition during the first game, but if the Hoosiers can perform better in that area, they should be able to limit the Hawkeyes’ offensive production.

Final Thought

Once again, this is a game that the Hoosiers should win despite heading into a difficult road environment.  After beating Purdue on the road a couple weeks ago, they should finally have some measure of confidence away from home.  As I have mentioned before the last couple games, it is important for Indiana to get off to a hot start, which in this case would help to keep the crowd at bay.

As was the case in the first matchup, this should be an uptempo affair.  IU should have no trouble putting points on the board, and if they can limit transition baskets for Iowa while keeping the Hawkeyes off the line, they should be able to extend their winning streak to four games.

**********

Listen to Andy Sunday on The Assembly Call. Follow him on Twitter at @AndyBottoms.



About Andy Bottoms

While Andy was born and raised in Indiana, he would like to point out that he grew up shooting hoops in his driveway and not against the side of a barn like you see in all the March Madness promos or in the middle of a field like Jimmy Chitwood. Andy ranks among the top bracketologists according to the Bracket Matrix and has provided his projections to Fox Sports for the past three seasons. When not compiling excuses for missing work during the NCAA Tournament, Andy enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He is a proud IU graduate and co-hosts The Assembly Call postgame show following every IU game. Twitter: @AndyBottoms

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