Game 23: Michigan at Iowa Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
Who: No. 10 Michigan (17-5, 9-1 B1G) at No. 17 Iowa (17-6, 6-4 B1G) Iowa%20Logo[1]
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena (Iowa City, IA)
When: 2:00 p.m., Saturday, February 8th, 2014
Radio: MGoBlue, 950 AM, 102.9 FM, 91 Sirius/XM
More: Derrick Walton | Pick to Click

Michigan heads back on the road this weekend for the first of two away games that could determine its Big Ten Championship hopes. The Wolverines will play in Iowa City on Saturday afternoon before traveling to Columbus on Tuesday.

For Michigan, playing in Iowa City has been something a recurring nightmare. Nothing seems to go smoothly for the Wolverines in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Wolverines have won their last seven games at home or neutral sites against the Hawkeyes by an average of 16 points per game. In Iowa City? The Wolverines are just 2-2 over the same span with both victories coming in overtime by a single possession.

Iowa, desperate to provide its legitimacy as a conference contender, will be looking to finally earn a marquee home victory before it’s too late. The Hawkeyes are just 1-6 against top-35 KenPom teams this season and their lone quality win this season was at Ohio State, who beat the Hawkeyes in Iowa City on Tuesday.

We’ve discussed Iowa quite a bit in the past month including our last game preview – which focused on Iowa’s personnel and ability to get to the free throw line – and recap as well as our First Look at the Hawkeyes which examined their ball screen defense and transition offense.

The Hawkeyes

Iowa’s offense hasn’t changed since the last time these two teams met. The Hawkeyes love to push the pace, run, crash the glass and shuffle bodies in and out of the lineup. Iowa isn’t a great 3-point shooting team, but knows how to get to the free throw line.

Iowa attempts less than a quarter of its shots from three-point range, the least in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes shoot 51% on twos (4th), 33% on threes (8th) for a .506 effective field goal percentage (5th).  While Iowa did a great job of valuing the basketball in the non-conference season, the Hawkeyes have given the ball away on 18% of their offensive possessions in Big Ten games (8th). But Iowa is the second best offensive rebounding team in the conference, corralling 36.4% of its misses. The Hawkeyes attempt 53 free throws per 100 field goal attempts, which is the best mark in the conference by a wide margin.

Iowa’s defensive profile is fairly nondescript, but gets results. The Hawkeyes have the third best defense in the Big Ten, but don’t jump off the page in any particular statistical category. Big Ten opponents are shooting 47% on twos (6th) and 32% on threes (6th) for a .473 effective field goal percentage (5th). The Hawkeyes do have the third-best defensive rebounding unit in the conference, grabbing 74% of their opponents’ misses.

The Hawkeyes have a lot of length both in the interior and on the perimeter, Iowa is the fourth tallest team in the country, which has allowed them to be an above average ball-screen defense team. Devyn Marble is especially effective at taking away ball screen scoring opportunities with his length.


Roy Devyn Marble uses more possessions than anyone in the Big Ten other than Terran Petteway, who Michigan faced on Wednesday. Marble isn’t the most efficient player, but he’s versatile enough to take a game over in a multitude of ways. Marble is only shooting 43% on twos in Big Ten games, but is knocking down an impressive 43% of his threes.

Aaron White is the most efficient player on the Iowa roster, but he has the tendency to drift in and out of games. This is partly because the majority of his production comes cutting to the basket or attacking in transition. He’s not a major shooting threat, but he can get to the free throw line (No. 2 in free throw rate in Big Ten games) and finish at the rim. Nik Stauskas did a great job defending White in the first meeting.

Melsahn Basabe, Adam Woodbury and Gabriel Olaseni are the notable post threats for the Hawkeyes. Basabe killed Michigan – scoring 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting – and Olaseni hardly got off the bench, registering just 7 minutes. Olaseni has scored in double digits in three of the four games since the first matchup and is a dominant threat on the glass. Woodbury might be the most skilled big and is good for a post-up move or two every game.

Spike Albrecht did a terrific job on Mike Gesell in the first meeting, holding him to four points and two turnovers, but Gessell has otherwise been very good in Big Ten play, averaging just shy of 10 points per game with the third best assist rate in the conference.

Zach McCabe, Jarrod Uthoff and Josh Oglesby will also see critical minutes off the bench. Oglesby is a 46% 3-point shooter and over half of his field goal attempts come from behind the arc while McCabe and Uthoff are additional, less efficient, options at the combo forward spot.


In the first preview I wrote that Michigan’s keys were transition play, defensive rebounding and free throw rate. Michigan responded by outscoring Iowa in fast break points, second chance points, points off turnovers and even bench scoring. The Wolverines actually lost the free throw attempt battle in that game, but dominated the rest.

The keys to beating Iowa haven’t changed, but accomplishing them in Iowa City will be much more difficult. On the other hand, Michigan will have Derrick Walton back healthy and in the lineup.

Bottom Line

This is the hardest game remaining on Michigan’s schedule according to Ken Pomeroy, who gives the Wolverines just a 33% chance of an upset and predicts a 79-74 Iowa win.

  • gobluemd16

    Even though KenPom has this rated as our hardest game remaining, I am much more fearful of the game @ Ohio State than this one. Definitely winnable considering how Iowa has played recently, even at home.

    • Cory

      I’m the opposite. I think the team will be up for Ohio State and fear a let down here or that they might be looking ahead already. We’re going to have to play really well to win this game on the road.

      • geoffclarke

        No way the team is looking ahead to OSU past Iowa, but I also think the Ohio State game is more winnable. I like that we’ll be able to give Iowa a different look with Walton in the game, though, as Dylan pointed out. I just think we’ll have a harder time on the defensive end against Iowa.

        Looking ahead to Ohio State, my hope is that we go into that game focusing on playing great defense. Then we will be less likely to get flustered, IMO, when we fail on the offensive end.

        • guestavo

          Iowa and Wisconsin combined to shoot 6/37 (16%) on 3 point looks against OSU, mostly good looks, too.

    • guestavo

      Ohio St will have to prove that they can score enough imo. They don’t have a Ferrell to bail them out.

      Iowa on the other hand, can score enough to beat us and has the size to hurt us.

      • gobluemd16

        I just know Ohio has tricks in the bag, a la Indiana, to completely stifle Stauskas (maybe even Craft denying, too), and winning on the road with our other 4 players would be a really tall task.

        • guestavo

          It wasn’t just stiffling Stauskas, but the fact that Yogi Ferrell hit 7/8 threes was maybe even more important. Do you see anyone on their team having an offensive explosion like that?

          • Chezaroo

            We looked awesome against Nebraska. Moved the ball, played unselfishly, found the open man. But I find it highly doubtful that we win any more conference games if we don’t score more than 52 points in a contest. Any team that can hold us to that output, doesn’t have to have much of an explosion to be a viable threat. Even OSU can probably come up with 53. Let’s hope the Nebraska game was an indication of where we’re going, and that the IU game was an aberration ( PSU last year ). Big chance to get another huge road win Saturday. Go Blue.

          • guestavo

            I thought it was already assumed we probably won’t be held to 52 points again?

          • Chezaroo

            I try never to assume.

          • guestavo

            There is a high probability we don’t score that low in Columbus

          • kam

            Never know. they have a really good defense and its on the road

          • guestavo

            If we score 50 in two games out of the last 4, it will be more than just good defense behind it.

          • kam

            thats fair but its not impossible. OSU is very good defensively

  • gobluemd16

    I think a win here pretty much guarantees a top 2 finish in Big Ten play

  • Chazer

    I know the team lifted weights today but I’m not a fan of that approach. The ball always seems heavier and the stroke is harder to find. Perhaps they don’t lift with their arms but it seems like too short of a recovery period. Of course they have more money and trainers to evaluate but I find this strange. They must track this but I will be looking at how they shoot the ball tomorrow just for fun.

    Go Blue

    • kam

      as long as you shoot after u lift it isn’t a problem. If u lift then don’t shoot it messes up your shot

  • Champswest

    I think that we go 5-3 or better in these last 8 games. Four loses won’t win the Big Ten this year or even get a tie. A loss tomorrow and MSU in in charge of the race and I doubt if we can take it back. Our schedule looks harder than Sparty’s, especially now with Payne back.

    • guestavo

      They still have @Wisconsin @UM vs Iowa vs OSU… I expect MSU to have 4 losses. They are the same team that lost to UNC w/ a fully healthy squad, not some dominant force.

      • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

        I agree. I don’t think our schedule is any tougher than what they face. Wisconsin will be in must win mode and likely beats them. Heck, an improving Northwestern team is a scary matchup as well for them. I do find it funny that they avoid @ Nebraska in a year that Nebraska looks pretty darn good at home. Playing @ OSU on Senior Night in Craft’s last game doesn’t look too fun as well.

        I like our schedule’s setup, getting alot of the “tougher” ones out of the way before some games against the mid level teams easing into the end of the season. Plus the week off between the Wisconsin and MSU games is huge mentally and physically. There are no easy games – but I certainly like our the way our schedule plays out compared to theirs.

    • Ben Sheler

      I also expect MSU to drop some games. They looked great last night because they shot 12-23 from three (kaminski was 5-6) and psu was 5-22, not because Payne was back. The game @michigan will be huge and may very likely determine who wins, not us @iowa tomorrow.

  • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

    This is a very winnable game and one I expect Michigan to win. Going into this game, we are riding a lot of good momentum. Stauskas will be needed in this one. The transition from the Purdue to Indiana game was sloppy – we didn’t end that Purdue game very cleanly and the sloppiness continued at Indiana.

    The one thing to watch is whether Iowa continues to miss three pointers, free throws and layups, I think we can consistently stay ahead in the game and win by 5-9 points. If those shots magically start going in, it will likely be a 50/50 game with 2 minutes to go. Even in that case, I see us making the clutch plays and Iowa unable to do so.

  • Mattski

    One of the ESPN reports said we packed the lane on the last time, dared them to shoot threes. If they’re poor-to-average from outside and we’re vulnerable to drives. . .

    • Mattski

      on them. . .