The Opening Tip: Hawkeyes Play Host to Ohio St. in Matchup of Ranked Teams
IOWA CITY, Iowa – With the unbalanced schedule in the Big Ten, each member plays another group of teams only once. They’re called “one-plays.” The impact of their outcomes can be magnified in tiebreakers for the conference tournament and then when it comes to NCAA seeding.
The 20th-ranked Hawkeyes face one of those opponents in their lone game this week. No. 25 Ohio State visits Carver-Hawkeye Arena Thursday night.
Here’s a closer look at Thursday’s contest in The Opening Tip:
TIME, TV: 6 p.m CT on ESPN with Jason Benetti and Robbie Hummel on the call.
RECORDS, RANKINGS: Iowa comes in at 18-8 overall and 9-6 in the Big Ten, while Ohio State stands at 17-8, 7-7. The Hawkeyes are 20th in the AP and Coaches Poll. The Buckeyes are 24th in the Coaches Poll and 25th in the AP.
THE COMPUTERS: Iowa checks in at No. 29 in NET, 28 in Sagarin and 22 in Ken Pom through Tuesday’s action. Ohio State comes in at 17, 12 and nine.
POINT SPREAD: The Hawkeyes are 2.5-point favorites with a total of 144.5.
HISTORY LESSON: Ohio State owns a slim, 81-80, advantage in the all-time series. The two teams have split the last 10 meetings, dating back to 2014.
Iowa holds a 50-28 overall advantage over the Buckeyes in Iowa City and a 20-13 edge in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes have won three of the last four contests against the Buckeyes in Iowa City, including a 72-62 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena a year ago.
NEXT: Iowa travels to Michigan State Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT.
SCOUTING THE BUCKEYES: Ohio State has ridden a roller coaster this season. It won its first 10 games and rose into the Top 5 of the national rankings. It then lost six of seven games beginning around the New Year.
The Buckeyes have bounced back from the slide. They’ve won five of their last six games coming into Thursday’s action. A victory at Michigan was the only one taking place on the road, however.
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Ohio State could make a move up the Big Ten standings by the end of the regular season. After the Iowa trip, it plays three of its last five contests at home and has a road date with lowly Nebraska. It gets Maryland, Michigan and Illinois in Columbus.
It will have its work cut out for it Thursday. The Hawkeyes are 12-1 at home after winning the last 11 in a row there.
The Buckeyes feature one of the conference’s top big men in Kaleb Wesson, who leads the team in scoring (14.1 PPG) and rebounding (9.4), the fifth best mark in the Big Ten. He ranks in the league’s Top 10 for points and boards during conference play. Like Garza, the big fella can step out deep as evidenced by his 36 three-pointers and 42.9 percent shooting from behind the arc.
Duane Washington Jr. (10.6 PPG) is the only other active Buckeye averaging double figures. D.J. Carton, a freshman from Bettendorf (IA) High, is averaging 10.4 but is away from the team five games ago for personal reasons.
Wing man Andre Wesson (9.0 PPG, 4.1 RPG) and forward Kyle Young (7.7, 5.8) are dangerous players capable of getting hot. Andre Wesson’s 38 treys are second on the team to Washington Jr.’s 40.
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Starting point guard CJ Walker, a transfer from Florida State, leads the team with 3.2 assists per game, which ranks 11th in the conference. His 1.3 steals are tied for second in the league.
The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten in scoring defense (61.4 PPG) heading into Wednesday’s action. Their +10.1 scoring margin ranks second to Michigan State (+11.0). The 38.4 percent shooting they yield is third best.
“They are physical, they’re connected, they’re up on the ball, they’re in the gaps, they fight the post, they run back,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “But I think ultimately when you look at a team that plays defense statistically like they do, they compete, and I think that’s the best thing you can say about them. Those guys compete.”
On offense, Ohio State shoots a league-high 38.2 percent on three-pointers. Its +5.2 rebounding margin is fifth.
Ken Pom ranks the Buckeyes 14th in adjusted defense and 21st in adjusted offense. They sit at 272 in adjusted tempo, while Iowa is 70.
KEYS FOR HAWKEYES: The Buckeyes launch from deep, usually with three or four guys on the court together capable of stretching the defense. Iowa must communicate and help each other while running guys off the arc.
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Ohio State rebounds well, so the Hawkeyes will need their guards helping out the bigs on the boards. The Buckeyes can be careless with the ball, so Iowa could capitalize on turnovers caused with pressure defense.
-Thursday’s game will be only the third Top-25 Showdown between the two teams over the past 20 seasons, with the other two coming in 2006 (Chicago) and 2014 (Columbus).
-Iowa’s next two games will be one-plays (Ohio State and Michigan State). The Hawkeyes are 3-1 in one-plays so far this season.
-Garza has scored 20+ points in 11 straight Big Ten games, the longest streak by a Hawkeye since Fred Brown (13) in ’71 and most by any Big Ten player over the last 20 years. Garza’s 617 points are most by an Iowa junior and 10th most in a single-season.
-Iowa’s Connor McCaffery is the only player in the country with 95+ assists and less than 25 turnovers. He also leads the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.26).
-Ohio State has seven players who have made 20 or more 3-pointers. The Buckeyes rank 14th nationally in three-point accuracy (.382) and 46th in three-pointers made (8.7).
-Andre and Kaleb Wesson are one of 16 sets of brothers playing on the same team in NCAA Division I this season and one of two sets in the Big Ten (Iowa, Connor and Patrick McCaffery).