Pregame Glance: Iowa

Written January 6th, 2012 by Eric

The Buckeyes are on the road again, this time facing the upstart Iowa Hawkeyes.  Let’s take a look:

Getting to be recognized in Basketball again.

School: University of Iowa
Location: Iowa City, IA
Founded: 1847
Student Population: 30,328
School Type: Public
Division: NCAA
Conference: Big Ten Conference
Stadium: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
Seating: 15,500
Built: 1983
Head Coach: Fran McCaffery
Year: 2nd

If you’re looking at this game as an easy OSU win, you’d better think again.  You’re probably thinking that because you were busy watching last year’s [Game Vacated by Ohio State] Bowl that happened to occur at the same time on January 4th.  Take a moment and recall how that game went down, as recorded by then-BBC-staffer Jay.  Of course, we did get them more easily in the rematch, but that was played in Columbus where Ohio State has an incredible record against opposing unranked teams – and, lets be honest, even against much more quality opponents as well.

The point is that Fran McCaffery, in just two seasons, has make an indelible mark on the Iowa basketball program.  What was once a dangerous member of the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes are quickly regaining their old swagger.  The best evidence of that are the first three games Iowa has played in conference play: losing a tight one at home to Purdue 79-76, beating Wisconsin in the Kohl Center (before it was fashionable to do so) 72-65, and beating Minnesota in the barn 64-62.  This team is wickedly dangerous this season.

That’s especially true for an OSU team that has struggled on the road this season.  In their three road games so far this season, the Buckeyes are 1-2 against Kansas (11 point loss), South Carolina (8 point victory), and Indiana (4 point loss).  There’s no question that this team is a lot better than any of those scores indicate, but they simply cannot put it together on the road right now.  Until we see them step it up road games are going to be a serious concern for this team moving forward.

The Hawkeyes have enough talent these days to employ several different players or strategies in beating an opponent.  Against Wisconsin, a team that has very little depth in the paint, the Hawkeyes got a lot of production out of starting sophomore forward Melsahn Basabe (6-7, 225) and freshman forward Aaron White (6-8, 225) off the bench.  The two combined for 32 points and 13 rebounds – a sizable fraction of the production for the entire team for that game.

Against Minnesota, a team with plenty of interior presence, the Hawkeyes found their most scoring from the more flashy attackers.  Lifelong senior guard Matt Gatens (6-5, 212) and sophomore forward Zach McCabe (6-7, 232) combined to score 31 of the Hawkeyes 64 points for the game.  Despite getting outrebounded (by a statistically insignificant margin) the Hawkeyes were able to force Minnesota into plenty of fouls, and connected on enough of their 24 charity stripe attempts to make a difference.

Matt Gatens 16 32.7 13.6 4.3 2.5 1.5 0.1 0.9 0.458 0.869 0.343
Roy Devyn Marble 16 25.6 10.9 3.2 3.6 1.6 0.4 0.9 0.449 0.704 0.231
Melsahn Basabe 16 22.9 9.4 6 0.3 0.6 0.9 1.6 0.504 0.712 0
Zach McCabe 16 19.9 7.4 4.8 0.9 0.9 0 1.3 0.5 0.76 0.45
Eric May 16 20.4 7.3 3.1 1.6 0.8 0.4 1.1 0.425 0.7 0.375
Jared Sullinger 14 26.4 16.4 9.7 1.1 1.1 0.9 1.5 0.594 0.77 0.333
William Buford 16 31.6 15.9 4.3 3.6 0.6 0.1 1.9 0.454 0.875 0.369
Deshaun Thomas 16 28.1 15.1 4.1 0.8 0.5 0.1 1.4 0.542 0.732 0.333
Aaron Craft 16 29.4 8.1 3.2 5.2 2.7 0.1 2.1 0.462 0.679 0.318
Lenzelle Smith Jr. 16 22.1 5.3 4.8 2.2 1.3 0.1 1.3 0.492 0.471 0.5

The Buckeye defense will have to be solid on all phases of the defensive game.  There are enough capable scorers on this Iowa team to make life miserable for the Bucks if they let even one of them go free.  This is particularly true for Gatens, who seems to be uniquely suited to driving teams nuts with his play.  That’s a compliment, by the way.  He’s just one of those solid Big Ten players that never seems to graduate and makes the players around him better.

The game will be played in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, January 7th at 3:00 pm Eastern Time.  You’ll be able to see that game on the Big Ten Network.

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