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Iowa MBB vs Northwestern Preview/Prediction

February 9, 2010

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Hawkeye Nation

Justin VanLaere’s preview/prediction for the Iowa-Northwestern game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena .

Game Info

Northwestern (16-7, 5-6) at Iowa (8-16, 2-9)
POMEROY RATINGS: NW 62, Iowa 159
RPI: NW 67, Iowa 193
Feb. 10, 2010 • 7:36 p.m.
Iowa City, IA • Carver-Hawkeye Arena
TV: BTN (HD) • Live Stats: hawkeyesports.com • Satellite Radio: XM 196
Series Record: IOWA leads 107-52 (Last Meeting, NU, 55-49, Feb. 28, 2009)

Probable Starting Lineups

Iowa
G 3 Cully Payne 6-1 190 Fr. 8.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.6 apg, .362 FG%, .627 FT%
G 5 Matt Gatens 6-5 215 So. 12.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.5 apg, .365 FG%, .836 FT%
G 25 Eric May 6-5 225 Fr. 9.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.1 spg, .409 FG%, .679 FT%
F 24 Aaron Fuller 6-6 230 So. 8.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.7 apg, .443 FG%, .677 FT%
C 50 Jarryd Cole 6-7 250 Jr. 8.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.4 apg, .588 FG%, .636 FT%

Northwestern
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Statistical Summary
G 22 Michael Thompson 5-10 190 Jr. 13.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 4.2 apg, .460 FG%, .785 FT%
G 23 Jeremy Nash 6-3 191 Sr. 9.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.9 apg, .377 FG%, .814 FT%
F 1 Drew Crawford 6-5 195 Fr. 11.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.8 apg, .473 FG%, .657 FT%
F 24 John Shurna 6-8 208 So. 17.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.6 apg, .460 FG%, .785 FT%
C 12 Luka Mirkovic 6-11 243 So. 7.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.6 apg, .462 FG%, .588 FT%

VanLaere Notes

No VLOG for this game.
Live Chat for this game can be found HERE.

It’s been 6 years since Iowa lost to Northwestern inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.  If there’s ever a year for the Wildcats to pull off that feat again, this it.  Iowa is in the midst of one of their worst years in program history, while Northwestern is clawing (see what I did there?) its way into its first NCAA Tournament berth ever.

Even with the loss of team MVP, Kevin Coble, for the season, Northwestern remains in the hunt for an at-large bid in the upcoming NCAA Tourney.  Iowa hopes to put a damper on that quest, as the Hawkeyes will have two chances in the weeks to come.

Iowa has lost 5 out of their last 6, including 4 in a row.  Iowa, though, has been showing improvement throughout the year.  Different players have been stepping up at different times.  Eric May and Aaron Fuller are two guys that come to mind.  Each of them has been playing their best ball since Big Ten play started.

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Iowa is a modest 7-8 at home, while Northwestern is a below average 2-4 away from Welsh-Ryan (wins over NC State and Michigan on the road).  Of Iowa 16 losses this year, 10 of them have been to Top 25 teams.

Northwestern gives the bulk of their minutes to their starting five, with Juice Thompson playing something like 500 minutes a game for Bill Carmody.  For comparison, NW’s key reserves Marco and Rowley both have less minutes played than Anthony Tucker, a guy that has only played in 11 games so far for Iowa.

I really do expect this to be a very stagnant and direct game.  Princeton Offense for NW and The System for Iowa.  Both teams will likely be very, very deliberate in this game on both ends of the court.  Iowa finally gets to play against a team that scores a higher % from behind the arc than they do (both are in the Top 5 in the nation, however).

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PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Juice. I think the minutes are starting to catch up with him, but he’s still dynamite and the leader of the team.  The guy hates losing, and he doesn’t mind strapping the team on his back from time to time.  Dishes dimes well, doesn’t turn it over, shoots well from outside.

Shurna.   He still looks like a high schooler on the court, but that makes him so deceptive.  Lethal from the outside, yet can create his own shot if he has to, and is NW’s best body on the boards.

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Crawford.   In the hunt to be the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.  Another guy who shoots VERY well from beyond the arc (who doesn’t for NW?)  He poses the biggest matchup problem for Iowa.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

  • Enough’s Enough, Let’s Get Some Tuck.   Back in December, I pegged a mid-February return for Tucker.  Well, it’s mid-February, so let’s see some Anthony Tucker on the court.  I realize Tuck will not likely start the rest of the year with the way May is playing, but he can be either the 6th or 7th man for this team right now.  This Hawkeye team needs a little less of a certain walk-on redshirt freshman on the court and more of a scholarshipped sophomore who needs to redeem himself.
  • Hungry?  Get Fuller.  Let Aaron have some fun on the block.  Sure, Mirkovic and Shurna can swat shots, but they aren’t Mutombo-clones by any stretch of the imagination.  Fuller’s inside game has developed nicely.  Get him the rock.
  • Inside Out.  Same as the point above, use the block.  NW uses a variety of D looks, including a 1-3-1 at times.  Looping the ball around the perimeter for 25 seconds isn’t going to get it done.  I know this key gets old to read every game preview, but it’s so important.
  • Run if You Can.  Most people expect this to be a 55-60 possession type game, and it should be.  However, NW isn’t a tremendously deep team (I’d wager Iowa is just as deep as the Wildcats).  Why not take your chances?  If the threes aren’t falling, Iowa is going to need to try to get points any way they can.   Take some chances.

PREDICTION: This could be one of the lowest scoring games in recent memory, especially if the three-balls aren’t falling.  That’s also what makes this prediction so difficult.  Both teams score a lot from the outside; whoever is hitting will win it.   Iowa 57,  Northwestern 55

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