The Opening Tip: No. 4 Michigan Awaits Hawkeyes in Ann Arbor

December 5, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Coming off an impressive road win against Syracuse earlier this week, Iowa leaves town again for the Big Ten opener at No. 4 Michigan Friday.

TIME, TV: 5:30 p.m. CT on FS1 with Tim Brando and Jimmy Jackson on the call.

RECORDS, RANKINGS: Iowa comes in at 6-2 and unranked. Michigan sits at 7-1, No. 4 in the AP Poll and No. 5 in the Coaches Poll.

THE COMPUTERS: Sagarin rates Iowa at 38 and Michigan at 7 as of Thursday morning. Ken Pom has the Hawkeyes at 39 and the Wolverines at 13.

POINT SPREAD: Michigan was listed as an 8-point favorite by William Hill and Westgate Thursday evening.

HISTORY LESSON Friday’s game will be the 160th all-time meeting between Michigan and Iowa.
The Wolverines lead, 95-64, and have won four of the last five. Michigan holds a 52-24 record in Ann Arbor, while the Hawkeyes own a 40-36 record in Iowa City, winning six of the last seven at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Wolverines hold a 7-0 advantage in neutral-site games with all seven coming in the Big Ten Tournament.

SCOUTING THE WOLVERINES It’s going to be weird not seeing John Beilein roaming the Michigan sideline. Fortunately for the Wolverines, new bench boss Juwan Howard, a member of the school’s storied Fab Five, is picking up where his legendary predecessor left off.

Michigan jumped from unranked to No. 4 in the country after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas last week. During the run, it knocked off Iowa State, North Carolina and Gonzaga.

The Wolverines suffered their first setback of the season on Tuesday, falling at top-ranked Louisville, 58-43, in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. They shot 15 of 58 (25.9 percent) from the floor, including 3 for 19 (15.8) on three-pointers.

They’ll be looking to bounce back behind senior point guard Zavier Simpson, who ranks second nationally with 8.9 assists per game and is averaging 11.9 points. With 502 assists in his career, he joins Gary Grant (731), Rumeal Robinson (575) and Antoine Joubert (539) as the only players in program history to reach that mark.

Simpson (6-0, 190) passes to talented teammates. Senior center John Teske (7-1, 265) is coming off MVP honors at the Battle 4 Atlantis and is the reigning Oscar Robertson Trophy National Player of the Week. He is averaging 13.9 points and 9.8 rebounds, which ranks fourth in the Big Ten.

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Junior forward Isaiah Livers (6-7, 230) leads Michigan in scoring (15.3 PPG). He’s shooting a blistering 48.9 percent (22-45) on three-point attempts. A fourth starter, Eli Brooks, is chipping in with 11.5 points and shooting 16 for 33 (48.5) from behind the arc.

Freshman Franz Wagner, the brother of former Wolverine standout Moritz Wagner, rounds out the starting five. He’s averaging 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds through four games. Sophomore David DeJulius (6-0, 190) averages 8.0 points and 3.6 boards off the bench.

Outsiders are chalking up Michigan’s flat performance at Louisville to a rough stretch of travel. The team isn’t accepting that and should be ready for the Hawkeyes.

“We don’t make excuses, sir,” Howard said when asked if the three straight games, traveling home from the Bahamas and then to Kentucky affected the Wolverines.

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KEYS FOR HAWKEYES The marquee matchup looks like Teske going heads up with Iowa big man Luka Garza, who leads the Big Ten in scoring (20.0 PPG) and ranks third in rebounding (10.0 RPG). Garza needs to avoid foul trouble, which hindered him in a loss against San Diego State last week in Las Vegas.

The Hawkeyes led, 30-29, at halftime Tuesday in Syracuse despite eight turnovers. They cut that in half after the intermission, which aided them greatly in the 68-54 victory.

Iowa needs to maximize possessions and take care of the basketball Friday.


-Going from unranked to No. 4 in the AP poll, Michigan posted the largest jump in the poll’s 70-year history.

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-Simpson has not missed a game in his four year career – 124 straight.

-Howard returns to his alma mater after spending 25 years in the NBA (19 as a player and six as an assistant with the Miami Heat). It’s the first time he’s been a head coach on any level.

-Michigan averages 9.4 three-pointers made per game.

-Garza is the only player in the country from a Power 5 Conference to average 20 points and 10 rebounds.

-The last time Iowa won its conference opener was on Dec. 29, 2015, against top-ranked Michigan State (83-70) in Iowa City.

-Hawkeye sophomore Connor McCaffery has 38 assists and only seven turnovers, tops in the Big Ten and fourth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (5.4). Over the last six games, McCaffery has 32 assists and only four turnovers.

-Iowa is in the middle of a stretch playing eight of 10 games away from Iowa City. In the period, the Hawkeyes are playing six of seven contests against teams who finished in the Top 100 of the NCAA NET Ranking a year ago (Texas Tech, Syracuse, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa State, and Cincinnati).

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