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The Opening Tip: Hawkeyes Hit the Road Again with Trip to Northwestern

January 13, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa carries the momentum of a victory against No. 12 Maryland last time out into Tuesday’s contest at Northwestern. The Hawkeyes will be looking to even their Big Ten record at 3-3.

It will be their fourth conference road game in six league outings. They’ll be at home for the next three.

Here’s a closer look at the next matchup in The Opening Tip:

TIME, TV: 7 p.m. CT on BTN with Dave Revsine and Stephen Bardo on the call.

RECORDS, RANKINGS: Iowa comes in at 11-5 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten, while Northwestern stands at 6-9, 1-4. Neither team is ranked.

THE COMPUTERS: Iowa checks in at No. 31 in NET, and 19 in Sagarin and Ken Pom. Northwestern comes in at 138, 117 and 104 as of Monday morning.

POINT SPREAD: Iowa is a 5.5-point favorite. The total is 144.

HISTORY LESSON: Iowa holds a 118-60 advantage over Northwestern in the series. The Hawkeyes have won 10 of the last 13 meetings, including both contests last season.

Iowa holds a 47-41 edge in games played in Evanston. The two teams have split the last six meetings in Evanston, dating back to 2012. The Hawkeyes won last year’s meeting in Evanston by 10 points (73-63), on Jan. 9, 2019.

NEXT: Iowa plays host to Michigan Friday at 8 p.m. CT.

SCOUTING THE WILDCATS: Northwestern picked up its first conference win Saturday, topping Nebraska, 62-57, in Evanston. Coach Chris Collins’ young team is playing better lately.

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The Wildcats built a 10-point, second-half lead at Indiana last week. They eventually fell, 66-62, but showed they might be on the upswing with that showing in one of the Big Ten’s tougher road environments before coming back with the win against Nebraska.

Like the Hawkeyes, Northwestern has been hit with injuries to key contributors, leaving it with seven healthy scholarship players. Junior guard Anthony Gaines started the team’s first 10 games before heading for season-ending shoulder surgery. Breakout freshman Boo Buie, the brother of former Penn State guard Taylor Battle, was averaging 10.8 point a game before a high ankle sprain sidelined him for the last three contests.

Sophomore forward Miller Kopp (6-7, 210) leads the Wildcats with 12.8 PPG and his 30 three-pointers made put him among the Top 10 in the conference. He’s shooting 41.7 percent from behind the arc and 84.8 on foul shots.

Graduate transfer guard Pat Spencer has been a revelation in Evanston. After four years as one of the country’s top lacrosse players at Loyola, he’s emerged to average 10.8 points, which ranks second on the team. He’s brought a toughness from the field to the court.

Redshirt freshman center Ryan Young (6-10, 235) has gotten his college career off to a nice start. He’s started all 15 games this season, averaging 10.1 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds.

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Sophomore forward Pete Nance (6-10, 225) averages 9.6 points and 6.6 rebounds. His father, Larry Nance, is retired after 13 seasons in the NBA, and his brother, Larry Nance Jr., plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Northwestern ranks last in the Big Ten in points per game (66.8) and sits second from the bottom in rebounding margin (-1.7). Its 42.4 percent field goal shooting is 11th in the league.

KEYS FOR HAWKEYES: There’s a chance Iowa could have the services of freshman guard C.J. Fredrick. His deadeye outside shooting would help prevent the Wildcat defense from sagging in on dominant big man Luka Garza.

More likely, the stress reaction his foot will keep him out. The Hawkeyes will need key contributions from role players around Garza and Joe Wieskamp like it received Friday in the upset of Maryland.

Iowa should enjoy a decided advantage on the backboards, so second-chance points could be helpful. Northwestern will want to slow the pace but the Hawkeyes would benefit by pushing it in transition and not allowing the home team to set up a half-court defense designed to slow Garza.

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Foul trouble remains a concern for Iowa with a short bench, but the Wildcats are in the same position.


-Northwestern ranks second in the Big Ten in free throw accuracy (.755) and fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3).

-Tuesday is the second game of four of five at home for Northwestern. The Wildcats are 4-4 inside Welsh-Ryan Arena this season.

-Tuesday will be Iowa’s ninth time away from home in 12 games. Iowa played games in three different time zones, seven different states, and traveled over 8,500 miles between Nov. 28-Jan. 7.

-Garza is one of only four players in the country (only player from a Power 5 Conference) averaging better than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. He is tied for first nationally with seven 20-point/10-rebound games this season, fifth in double-doubles (10) and points per 40 minutes played (28.7), sixth in scoring (22.0), and 12th rebounding (10.8). He has totaled 352 points so far this season, the most by a Hawkeye after the first 16 games of a season since Fred Brown’s 445 in 1970-71.

-The Hawkeyes registered 189 wins over the last decade, the third highest winning decade in program history. Iowa won 207 games in the 1980’s and 194 in the 1990’s.

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