BTT Game 1: Michigan vs. Iowa Preview

Dylan Burkhardt


Who: Michigan (14-16, 7-11) vs. Iowa (10-21, 4-14)
: Conseco Field House, Indianapolis
When: Thursday, March 10th, 2:30 PM EST
: MGoBlue, WWJ 950 AM/WTKA 1050 AM
Line:  Michigan by 8
Live TFS
Pomeroy Profile
Big Ten Tournament Bracket
Last Time: Preview / Post Game
First Time: Preview / Post Game


Michigan tips off the Big Ten Tournament with a 2:30 matinee versus Iowa (again). Michigan and Iowa have become quite familiar with each other of late. This will be the 9th time that these two programs have faced off in the last three years. Michigan is 5-2 in the last seven contests, going 2-1 each year.

The old adage “it’s tough to beat a team three times” certainly comes into play here. Michigan swept the season series but judging by the game in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes seem to have figured out the Michigan defense. Iowa scored 1.18 points per possession in that game, the third worst defensive performance of Michigan’s season.


Aaron Fuller was simply dominant in that contest. Fuller scored 30 points on 11 of 13 shooting and also pulled down 13 rebounds. Michigan needs to figure out a way to slow down the versatile power forward or they could be looking at a long day. If they do manage to stop Fuller, they should have a great shot to win the game as Iowa’s options beyond Fuller are limited.

The one other player to watch out for is Matt Gatens. Gatens also played very well in the last match-up (21 points on 8 of 13 (3-6 3pt) shooting with 8 rebounds, and four assists) and Michigan will have to do work to slow him down. Gatens three point shooting is down from last year (34% from 40%) but he is still dangerous if he gets going. He also is one of the few Iowa players that has the ability to take the ball to the rack if you over play him.

For Michigan, it’s all about DeShawn Sims. Over the last two years (6 games), Sims averages 21 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field. His performances have been highlighted by a game tying three in Iowa City earlier this year and also his monster performance in the Big Ten Tournament last year in which he single handily punched Michigan’s NCAA tournament ticket. Sims will need to bring his A-game which we haven’t seen nearly as often as we did in January.

Iowa’s strengths and weaknesses as a team haven’t changed much since the last game. Their offense has really struggled, they have the second worst offense in the Big Ten at .94 points per possession in conference play. They even shoot the ball worse than Michigan with a shooting line (2pt/3pt/eFG) of 42.04/30.1/46.4. They turn the ball over on 22.3% of their possessions in conference play and only Indiana does a worse job holding onto the ball.

While their offense has been decidedly mediocre, Iowa’s defense hasn’t been any better. Iowa does do one thing well: defend the three point shot. Big Ten opponents shoot only 32.8% from three point range versus the Hawkeyes, second best in the conference. The Hawkeyes’ field goal defense is below average and they give up a ton of good looks from two point range. They don’t force many turnovers but they do manage to keep opponents off the free throw line.

Considering Iowa is one of only two teams that Michigan swept this year, the Wolverines are clearly capable of beating them. Anything can happen in a conference tournament game though and it will come down to whether Michigan executes. At this point no one knows what to expect from this team on any given night. This is most likely the final weekend in one of the most disappointing Michigan basketball seasons in quite some time. It’s a crapshoot how they react… They could go on a torrid winning streak like Baylor last year and come up just short. Or they could go out with barely a wimper and lose to Iowa.

I wouldn’t be surprised at any outcome but the stats do point toward Michigan. Pomeroy likes Michigan by 7 with an 82% chance at victory while Vegas is even more confident and likes Michigan by 8. Let’s hear your thoughts and predictions in the comments.

  • Tweeter

    It was ugly, but wins are wins at this point. No way to predict how the team will respond come tomorrow, but I like having Beilein as coach in tourney settings. Get some good shooting and who knows what will happen.

    The only thing that really bothered me today was the total lack of defensive rotations. Help defenders seemed to have their backs turned to the ball far too often.

  • michigan hoops 4eva

    Hey, I’ve seen uglier. Michigan definitely brought it to begin with, but then kind of limped through the second half. Let’s hope Michigan isn’t too tired for OSU tomorrow, they’re gonna need a HUGE game to beat Evan Turner and company.

  • ryan

    Stu douglass: 40 minutes
    Manny: 38 mintutes
    Novak: 37 minutes
    heavy legs for Tomorrrow. Was there not a time when he could have thrown Vogrich in for 5-10 minutes just to eat some time?

  • Tweeter

    ryan considering that they barely hung on doing that, I dont think it would have been wise to try and save our legs for tomorrow.

  • maxwell’s demon

    Even if the right Michigan team shows up tomorrow, I’m afraid we do no better than keeping it close for 35 minutes. OSU has gotta be hungry for that 1 seed.

  • ToBlav

    LLP showed there might be hope for him.
    This teams has zero killer instinct.
    I think Morris sat for a time because a careless pass was followed quicky by a silly foul.
    Don’t think they used a lot of energy today, after the early push they coasted.
    Didn’t it seem like the refs were trying to take it into overtime, like the commercials.
    Hope the confidence is there tomorrow, all we can do is our best and you need confidence to do that.

  • Evan

    I dont think anyone likes cully payne

  • AG2

    Will everybody cool it with this “OSU in the hunt for a #1 seed” nonsense!? Teams ranked in the low 20s in the RPI with SEVEN losses don’t get #1 seeds. Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, and Syracuse. Even losing to Georgetown, even losing Arinze Onuaku. OSU is a #2, and they’re not next in line for a #1.

  • maxwell’s demon

    AG2 – They are in the 20s because of Turner’s injury. It’s ridiculous that RPI gets factored in because of a scenario exactly like this. But if they win the conference tourney, then they certainly have a shot at a 1 seed. And who is everybody?

  • I know there must be good reasons–and I know he’s not the Second Coming–but I have found myself wondering what might have been if Beilein had managed to work Zack Gibson further into the rotation this season. So many games where the point differential was 6 or under; so many games where Peedi carried all the load down low.

  • Brian W

    Good point on Gibson. Will be interesting to see how much Peedi and Gibson play together tomorrow… Hopefully it’s not a Steve Lavin-Evan Turner lovefest again on ESPN.

    Dylan, looks like you can add 2011 Cheshire Academy PF/SF Eric Katenda to the next recruiting round-up. has a story on him. He’s 6’9″, so the quest for more height continues.