MBB: Preview/Prediction – Iowa vs. UNI
By Justin VanLaere
The Hawkeyes look to win back-to-back games for the first time this season, as they begin their quest to win the mythical state championship for the first time in years.
UNI Panthers (4-2, 0-0) vs Iowa Hawkeyes (4-4, 0-0)
POMEROY RATINGS: UNI – 100 , Iowa 85
RPI: UNI – 32, Iowa – 282
Tip Off: Tuesday, December 7th, 2010; 7:06 PM CST
Iowa City, IA – Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,550)
TV: Big Ten Network (HD) • RADIO: AM-600, AM-800, AM-1040
SERIES: Iowa leads series 32-8, including 12-1 at home.
NO LIVE CHAT
PG – Bryce Cartwright, 6’1”, 180 lb, JR
G – Matt Gatens, 6’5”, 215 lb, JR
F – Eric May, 6’5”, 225 lb, SO
F – Melsahn Basabe, 6’7”, 225 lb, FR
C – Jarryd Cole, 6’7”, 250 lb, SR
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G – Kwadzo Ahelegbe, 6’2”, 213 lb, SR
G – Johnny Moran, 6’1”, 190 lb, JR
G – Anthony James, 6’0”, 175 lb, SO
F – Lucas O’Rear, 6’6”, 260 lb, SR
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F – Jake Koch, 6’9”, 225 lb, SO
Good news is Iowa has yet to lose back-to-back games this season. Bad news is Iowa has yet to win back-to-back games this season. The Hawkeyes have alternated Ls and Ws through 8 games, and they are looking to buck that trend in their upcoming game vs. the UNI Panthers. Iowa is looking to keep the momentum going after their win over Idaho State this past Saturday.
Home cooking might be the difference maker in this ballgame. Iowa has lost just once on their home floor. UNI has won just once on the road. In the history of this series, the Panthers have won just once inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Once.
This isn’t the same Sweet Sixteen Panther team that went 30-5 last year. Many of the starters on this year’s squad were solid contributors off the bench. Now they are being asked to lead the team. Gone are Farokhmanesh, Koch, and Eglseder. The team now belongs to players like Ahelegbe, Moran, and O’Rear. UNI was a deep team last season, so the players coming off the bench have had plenty of game experience to build on. This season, they do not have the luxury of such a long bench to work with.
Looking at this Panther team preseason, I thought they would easily be the best team in the state. And although UNI did take down Iowa State, I am not convinced yet that this squad from Cedar Falls is the state’s best. They still possess the hard-nosed defense that keeps them in most games, but they will need to elevate their game from here on out.
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I am extremely interested to see the head-to-head battle between Ahelegbe and Cartwright. Both can get into the lane, both have decent jumpers, both can get in your face on the D end.
KEYS TO GAME FOR IOWA:
– Tempo? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Tempo! The game will pit two teams of opposite offensive philosophies against each other. UNI likes to slow it down and work their sets. Iowa likes to get out and run. You’d think the fact that usually the slow down team can dictate the tempo and force their game. That should favor UNI, right? Not really. In games where Iowa’s tempo is > 70, they are 2-4, whereas they are 2-0 in games with a tempo < 70. Iowa’s tempo in their 4 losses averaged 73.75, while their tempo in their 4 wins averaged 70.5. Bottom line is – the tempo might actually favor Iowa.
– Do Not Fret. UNI’s guards will be all over the Iowa ball-handlers and will cause turnovers. Iowa will go on a scoring drought. UNI will make a run at some point in the game. The Hawkeyes need to say composed during the tough stretches and find a way to endure. There can be no quit.
– Guard the Perimeter. The Panthers love the deep ball. They aren’t shooting it well on the year (28.3%), but they shoot it a lot (45% of the FGA are 3PA). Iowa has struggled guarding the perimeter in previous games [see Wake Forest]. Iowa’s zone can be effective guarding the trey, but if it’s not, McCaffery needs to be flexible enough to switch to man.
– Students, Let’s Hear You. Free tickets to Iowa students. There really isn’t any reason for Carver not to be loud. The Hawkeyes desperately need a home court advantage in this one.
PREDICTION: Preseason, I liked UNI in this one, by about 8 or 10 points. However, the UNI games I have watched so far this season, I have been anything but impressed. Don’t get me wrong, they are solid team and they’ll likely have a terrific shot at yet another NCAA berth. Iowa has looked better and better each time they step onto the court. They are bound for a complete game one of these days… this one is it. Home court advantage puts Iowa over the top. I see the magic number being 55, whoever gets there first, wins. FINAL SCORE: Iowa 57, UNI 54