The Opening Tip: Hawkeyes Welcome No. 19 Michigan to Carver
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa shoots for a third win a row and an above .500 conference mark for the first time this season Friday when it plays host to No. 19 Michigan. It’s a rematch of the Big Ten opener won by the Wolverines, 103-91, on Dec. 6.
The Hawkeyes begin a three-game home stand after playing four of their first six conference contests on the road.
Here’s a closer look at Friday’s matchup in The Opening Tip:
TIME, TV: 8 p.m. CT on FS1 with Brandon Gaudin and Stephen Bardo on the call.
RECORDS, RANKINGS: Iowa comes in at 12-5 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten, while Michigan stands at 11-5, 2-3. The Wolverines are 19th in the AP and 20 in the Coaches’ Poll. The Coaches have the Hawkeyes No. 24.
THE COMPUTERS: Iowa checks in at No. 30 in NET, 18 in Sagarin and 15 in Ken Pom. Michigan comes in at 27, 23 and 20 through Wednesday’s games.
POINT SPREAD: The Hawkeyes are a 4.5-point favorite. The total is 149.
HISTORY LESSON: Michigan holds a 96-64 advantage in the series. The Wolverines won this season’s Big Ten opener, 103-91, on Dec. 6, 2019, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Iowa owns a slim 39-37 edge in games played in Iowa City. Iowa holds a 18-14 advantage in games played in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Four of the last nine Iowa-Michigan games played in Iowa City have gone to overtime, dating back to 2009.
NEXT: Iowa plays host to Rutgers Wednesday at 8 p.m. CT.
SCOUTING THE WOLVERINES: Following a 7-0 start that included a Battle 4 Atlantis title, Michigan under first-year head coach Juwan Howard has ridden a rollercoaster. It has lost two of its last three contests with the win coming in double overtime at home against Purdue.
The Wolverines have missed second-leading score Isaiah Livers, who was averaging 13.6 points and shooting 50 percent from behind the three-point arc before sitting out the last four games with a groin injury. He scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds in the first meeting with Iowa this season, and netted 11 versus the Hawkeyes in knocking the Hawkeyes out of last year’s Big Ten Tournament.
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The cupboard is far from bare for Howard and his staff without Livers, who is listed as day to day. Senior point guard Zavier Simpson leads the Big Ten with 8.9 assists per game, and adds 12.6 points and 4.5 rebounds. He’ll be a handful for Iowa freshman Joe Toussaint.
Center John Teske leads the team in scoring (14.3 PPG) and rebounding (7.9 RPG). His 2.1 blocks per contest rank fifth in the conference.
Eli Brooks chips in with 10.3 points and has 26 treys, second on the team to Livers’ 29. His 2.0 assists are second on the team behind Simpson.
Freshman Franz Wagner, the younger brother of former Wolverine Mo Wagner, started the season with an injury but has settled nicely into the starting lineup. He’s averaged 9.7 points and hit 19 three-pointers.
David DeJulius brings a spark off the Michigan bench. He is averaging 8.0 points and has 20 three-pointers.
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Michigan ranks first in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (.478), and sits second in three-point accuracy (.363) and 3-pointers made (8.6). It’s third in scoring offense (77.9), 3-point field goal percentage defense (.290) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3).
The Wolverines last played on Sunday afternoon, a 75-67 setback at Minnesota. They’ve dropped all four of their true road games this season.
“For them, it sort of depends on Simpson. He’s the key to it all. It’s been that way for a while now. He’s really good with the ball. He’s as good as anybody I’ve scouted over the years at finding people, making plays, making plays for himself, and he’s got some weapons around him. Teske is playing really well. Eli Brooks has really blossomed this year with the opportunity to play more,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
KEYS FOR HAWKEYES: Iowa’s game plan in the first meeting of these two teams was sagging off shooters and protect the paint. It did not work.
Simpson (33.3 percent on three-pointers in ’19-20) sank 2 of 3 as did reserve forward Brandon Johns, who’s made only six all season. Brooks added three triples on a night when Michigan canned 10 as a team.
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The Hawkeyes must play better defense, which includes rebounds, where they were minus-8 in the first meeting.
The Wolverines have struggled mightily with defending opposing big men as they prefer running shooters off the three-point line. Iowa would be wise to let the peacock fly and feed star center Luka Garza, who scored 44 points when the teams met in December.
-Simpson (573) needs just three assists to move into sole possession of the second spot on U-M’s all-time list, currently held by Antoine Joubert (575). This season, Simpson has had five 10+ assist games and has eight assists or more in each of his last seven games.
-In five Big Ten games, Simpson his missed a total of 18 minutes, averaging 38.4 per game.
-Over his last four games, Wagner has scored in double figures three times, averaging 11.5 points and 4.7 rebounds and knocking down nine of his 19 total three-pointers.
-Tuesday at Northwestern was Iowa’s third true road win of the season and fifth win away from Iowa City, tying Michigan State for the most in the Big Ten.
-On Thursday, Garza was named a first-team midseason All-American by Sporting News. Last week, Garza was named to two national player of the year mid-season watch lists (Wooden Award; Lute Olson Award).