Game 21: Iowa at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt


Who: Michigan (10-10, 3-5) vs. Iowa (8-13, 2-6)
: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: January 30th, 4:35 PM EST
: MGoBlue, WWJ 950 AM/WTKA 1050 AM
: Live TFS
Pomeroy Profile

10-10, that’s Michigan’s record after 20 games. Before the season, even a Michigan State fan wouldn’t have predicted that. Anyone who follows the program is left with nothing to say but: What happened?

This season is like a bad dream with each loss another twisted chapter of frustration. Some were expected, some are explainable, but then there are those unexplainable losses that serve as a hollow reminder of what could have been.

Michigan is .500 after 20 games. We’re beyond the point of blaming sample sizes, luck, or shooting slumps for poor play — this team is what it is. At this point they need to win 6 of their final 10 games to finish over .500 with an NIT eligible record. That’s only two fewer wins than the 8-2 mark they would need to somehow squeak back onto the bubble at 18-12.

There are certainly winnable games down the stretch. Michigan faces Iowa twice and plays home games versus Wisconsin, Penn State, Illinois, and Minnesota. Road trips to Northwestern, Minnesota, Ohio State, and Michigan State are obviously a little more difficult but Michigan did score two of their three conference road wins at Northwestern and Minnesota last year.

At this point it’s tough to pencil any game into the win column for this Michigan team, given how thin team morale has worn over the year, even a home game versus one of the conference’s doormats.

Iowa makes the trek to Crisler with an 8-13 (2-6 B10) record. They have been playing slightly better basketball of late. They knocked off Penn State at home, made a valiant comeback effort in East Lansing, blew out Indiana in Bloomington, and led Ohio State with 4:22 to play. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, the Hawkeyes are still not a good team.

They can shoot the ball relatively well with a shooting line of 50.4/51.2/33 but that’s about it. They turn the ball over on 23% of their possessions, rebound only 30.7% of their shots, and don’t get to the line (29.6% FTR); all of those numbers fall in the bottom 100 teams in Division 1 basketball.

Defensively Iowa struggles as well. They give up a 51.3/51.2/34.3 shooting line (eFG/2pt/3pt) and only force turnovers on 18.6% of their opponents’ possessions. They do a great job of crashing the defensive glass (70.6% DR%) and keeping opponents off the line (28.3% FTR).

Iowa’s motley crew of three point shooters is led by 6-foot-5 sophomore Matt Gatens (46.7/40.8/34.9) but freshmen Cully Payne (34.2% 3pt) and Eric May (27.3% 3pt) aren’t afraid to bomb away either. Devan Bawinkel (36.8% 3pt) is also never scared to let them fly, but don’t expect anything but a three point shot. Despite attempting 57 three point fieldgoals, the senior hasn’t attempted a 2 point shot and is 2 of 4 from the free throw stripe. Gatens is nursing a sprained ankle but expected to play while the Hawkeyes original starting guard Anthony Tucker is suspended (again) and will not play Saturday.

Up front,  Jarryd Cole (6’7″) and former Michigan recruit Aaron Fuller (6’6″) shoulder the load with occasional assistance from freshman Brennan Cougill (6’9″). The Hawkeyes frontline is strong enough on the defensive boards but they certainly aren’t game changers (both Cole and Fuller average around 8 points and 5 rebounds per game).

You know what to expect when you face Iowa. They are going to slow the game down to a painful crawl and shoot a lot of threes.  OK, maybe not. Yours truly is humbled to say that Iowa is averaging 64 possessions per game in conference play, two more than Michigan. The Hawkeyes do still love the three ball, shooting 44.7% of their shots from behind the arc in conference play, making 31% of them.

There is one match-up to absolutely love in this game: DeShawn Sims versus Jarryd Cole. Most of you probably remember last year’s Big Ten Tournament win over Iowa but if you don’t here are Sims’ numbers:  30 minutes, 27 points, 12 of 16 (1-2 3pt) shooting, 2 rebounds, 3 steals. And here’s Michigan’s first 14 points of the game from the play-by-play:

Sims has played extremely well throughout conference play, evident by the fact that he’s leading the Big Ten in scoring (conf. games only). Michigan needs to look to Sims early, often, and for the entire 40 minutes.

Beyond Sims, the key is stopping Iowa’s shooters. Michigan has done a great job defending the three this year which is good news. Iowa’s propensity for turning the ball over makes me expect Beilein to experiment with the 1-3-1 a bit to try to force Iowa into some stupid turnovers.

On paper this is a game where Michigan should roll. Pomeroy gives Michigan an 89% chance at the win and predicts Michigan 66-55. I think that’s probably realistic but I’ll take Michigan 67-52. Predictions and in-game discussion belong in the comments.

P.S.: Assistant coach Jerry Dunn is expected to rejoin the team on Sunday or Monday.

  • Ace

    Hey Dylan, I think you’ve got the date of the game wrong (30th, not 29th). I got really scared for a second that I had totally forgotten that there was a game today.

  • JimC

    Unless something crazy happens and Manny AND Sims get benched for the game, M should win easily…71-53.

  • Tweeter

    Mark why do you think UM is fading? I believe it is quite the opposite. UM is playing their best basketball right now. It has not resulted in a ton of wins, but they also have not been playing Iowa every game. UM will win easy. 76-64.

  • Ken in Vegas

    “Seems to be fading?” You either haven’t watched the any games recently or your memory seems to be fading.

  • Alex

    I don’t think Michigan sleeps on this Iowa team for this game. I would be more scared if we had won the MSU game of a letdown.

  • AG2

    I have to admit, this game makes me nervous. Sure Iowa doesn’t have Jake Kelly anymore, but they’re bigger and deeper than last year. Michigan is probably more talented, but let’s face it, the better shooters tomorrow will be wearing Black and Gold, not Maize and Blue.

    That being said, I think Michigan is hungry for victory. Michigan wins 68 – 62.

  • Junderground

    What I’d like to see:
    1) the team being patient and taking only good looks
    2) the 1-3-1 in effect for 30 minutes or so, forcing a few steals and hampering Iowa’s offense
    3) LLP and Darius each driving into the lane for shots several times
    4) someone hitting at least four threes on better than 40% 3 pt. shooting

    That’s it. If they do most of those or a couple of equivalents, I’ll be happy.

  • Deacon Blues

    Good preview, as always.

    Let’s say U-M does wind up .500. Is that going to be good enough for the NIT?

    Remember: The NIT is a meritocracy now. They don’t just pick the name schools anymore. Last year, the NIT’s worst at-large team RPI-wise was Washington State, which was 91st at the time. We’re 122nd.

    Which prompts a second question: Would U-M accept a CBI bid?

  • Erik

    Thought this blurb on LLP was funny

  • What I would like to see Saturday….

    1. Novak make (3) three pointers
    2. LLP & Morris take it to the basket with authority and score
    3. Gibson have at least 6 points and three rebounds
    4. Sims touch the ball once on the block on every offense set
    5. Manny with 5 steals

  • Tweeter

    Deacon, exactly .500 on the season, I dont think UM gets into the NIT. But admitedly I have not paid any attention to what the records/rpi of teams have been recently that have gone to the NIT.

    As for the CBI, I feel like the school/program itself would not want to accept the invite to play. However, I feel like Beilein probably would want to. I get the feeling he could care less about image in terms of it being a lesser tourney, and he would just like to play b/c it would mean more competition.

    Myself, I think it would be a good idea to play. Especially considering there is going to be some big time attrition from this team after this year, as many games as guys like Douglass, Novak, Morris, LLP, etc. get to play cant be a bad thing. Also, I dont think it will have any effect on recruiting or overall image. Can anyone really name the teams that have played in the thing over the last few years? Most recruits probably wouldnt even know that we are in it.

    All that said, lets just win the F out and make the tourney!

  • Tweeter

    Wayman Britt: of those five things, I only see one realistically happenning. That is Novak making three things. The others all seem like stretches. Perhaps Manny getting five steals could happen, but its probably like 30:1 odds. Gibson has not shown enough lately to even consider those numbers, plus he does not get the playing time. LLP and Morris going to the basket with authority? Maybe if it was just go to the basket and score, I would say yes. But not with authority. Sims clearly will not touch it on the block on every possession. I think the best you could hope for would be two of five on those things.

  • KainKitizen

    Tomorrow’s game will be fun to watch. It’s a game that both teams need to build upon. Both teams play for the 3 point shot. I think this is the game that our boys lite up the nets with made shots and come out of there poor shooting habits. Have Deshawn make his mark in the post and then kick the ball out to Stu, Laval, Novak, and I bet you even Vogrich gets some shots off from behind the arc too tomorrow. Michigan wins by 10+ points. “Clap” “Clap”, Let’s go!

  • AG2

    I read that SI thing about Amaker at Harvard. I feel like he got off to a much better start there with Jeremy Lin waiting for him and success begets good recruiting. We were underachieving toward the end and that affected recruiting, along with Michigan’s image of not being serious about basketball.

    In hindsight, Amaker probably isn’t a terrible coach, but he just couldn’t get over the hump here, and that made him a bad fit. Harvard is probably a lot more like Duke where he’s from than Michigan, a school that used to play Duke almost every year before he arrived.

    That being said, this year’s team is more incomplete than bad. And we did make the tournament last year so I’m still satisfied. Although if we continue to remain in an incomplete state Beilein will bear some responsibility for that.

    Does anyone think Iowa’s extra size is going to preclude a repeat of Peedi’s big game from the Big Ten Tournament?

  • Thanks, Erik!

    AG2 – I’m really skeptical on whether Amaker was a good coach at all. He took top-100 players like Horton, C. Sims, D. Harris, and Petway, and didn’t develop them a lick. He took top recruits and produced Italian league benchwarmers and D-Leaguers.

  • Michigan in 9-10 on the year, NCAA doesn’t take into account DII wins in overall win count.

  • The game against D2 teams counts. It just doesn’t count for RPI.

  • AG2

    I’m surprised Michigan is projected to be a 14pt favorite. I anticipate a closer game.

  • Let’s say Mich finishes the season on a 10 game win streak, sure our total win total reaches 20 but in the eyes of the tourney committee it’s just 19-10. They only take DI wins into account when looking at resumes.

  • Tweeter

    the twenty win mark is just a myth. It doesnt make a difference. All it means is that your team had a moderately succesful season and beat more teams than it loss to. In reality the committee looks much deeper into who you actually played and who you beat. For instance in UM could somehow (obvi stretch) win at State, at OSU, beat Illinois and finish in the top five in the BT. I think they would have a shot even though they would be below the 20 win mark. However, if they lose all those games and finish top 5 or 6 at 18 wins, it wont mean anything b/c they just wont have enough good wins.

    I really like the way the team is playing as of late, and I feel like shots have to start falling sooner or later. Hopefully not later. I still feel like Douglass, Novak, LLP, Vogrich are all good shooters, they just arent comfortable yet with the shots they are getting. I know all the percentages from last year and this, tend to speak for themselves that they arent that good. But a guy like Vogrich was thought of as the best shooter coming out this past year, and he has looked terrible at times shooting the ball. I really think the poor shooting has more to do with the lack of comfort and the lack of depth, more than it does with them being poor shooters.

    That said it may not change this year because the depth aint getting any better and if these guys arent comfortable now in the positions they are playing it probably isnt going to happen over the last month. But perhaps next year.

    On Amaker, I dont know why everyone (a couple people) is/are suddenly jumping on his bandwagon. Harvard is having a decent year this year, but they still are not as good as the top team in the Ivy. We’ll find out a lot more tomorrow when they play Cornell. But the bottom line is that Amaker was not a great coach. He was ok. He did a good job on the defensive side of things, but offensively he did nothing. He never put in an offense that his players could run effectively, and he never developed his talent. If you gave him a bunch of elite players, yeah I think he would do a great job because he would get them to play hard and defend. But if you gave him mediocre players, they would struggle.

    In a lot of ways he reminds me of Calapari. He is a good motivator and knows enough about the game to get high talent to play together and score. But when the talent isnt there, he doesnt have a back up plan.

    Beilein on the other hand, seems to be a lot better at not only developing players, but making adjustments to what his teams do best.

    Sorry for the long rant as usual.

  • Tweeter

    Got to mention this as well in my drunken stupper, but how in the hell can UM get screwed twice in one week against MSU by blown calls. I know the bball team should have won anyway regardless of the lack of a call late, but the hockey team scored as clear a goal as you can score, and gets effed. I dont know what is going on lately, but at some point real soon you just get the feeling that UM is going to have some destructions of MSU in all sports.

  • Tweeter,

    You’re exactly right about the 20 win mark. However 20 does look much nicer than 19 that’s for sure.

    “Not only does Michigan need wins — the Wolverines are viewed as a 9-10 team record-wise by the selection committee because the Division II Northern Michigan victory doesn’t count — it needs quality wins and those will be challenging.”

  • JimC

    Wow there is a lot of NCAA talk in here…but take that hope at your own risk. Personally I’m trying to figure out if I want M in the NIT or not, that’s it. The CBI? I didn’t even know what it was until i read your comments. Maybe it’s just better to not discuss that?!

    Let’s just take care of Iowa today….by crushing them!

  • Junderground

    1. The 06-07 team won 21 games and didn’t get in.
    2. Anyone who looks at the remaining games and sees potential for more than 5 wins has precisely no grounding in reality or is completely unfamiliar with anything that has happened this season.
    3. Anyone who thinks Michigan can win the BTT is in the temporary grip of delusion. We’re inconsistent, we choke in the final minute of close games, we give up leads, we sometimes look bored and unmotivated, and we can’t win away from Crisler (and often lose there).
    None of this means I’m not a fan. It means I’m enough of a fan not to push my ridiculous expectations off on a bunch of twenty-year-olds.

  • Junderground: It’s tough to imagine them winning 5 games because of all the disappointing losses I suppose. But the schedule certainly lightens up… Iowa, @NW, Wisconsin, @Iowa, Penn State, Illinois, Minnesota.

    That’s 7 games that I would say easily “winnable”. Will Michigan choke one or two (or more) away? Probably but they are capable of finishing this season on a relative high note and it would be nice to see them rebound down the stretch.

  • Mike

    Wayman Britt, Lets just hope that Gibson can catch a bounce pass in the lane let alone six points and 3 boards

    Junderground, I think we can win the big ten tourney as long as we dont have to play Purdue

    No way were losin to Iowa today

  • beileinomics

    Michigan wins by 15+. We’re 10-10 guys not 0-20. We are certaintly capable of beating Iowa-type teams.

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  • beileinomics

    Thunder, Iowa is also “just a bad team.” Why would that translate into us getting domninated?

  • Paul F.

    Michigan 70, Iowa 58.