How They Are Doing So Far:
Iowa has had an up and down Big Ten season. They started 0-3 with losses to Wisconsin, Michigan State and Purdue. After that the Hawkeyes reeled off five nice wins in a row, including wins over then ranked teams Nebraska and Ohio State and road victories over Northwestern and Penn State. That nice stretch of wins came to an end last week when the Hawkeyes lost to Michigan State 82-67. Obviously that is not a bad loss, even in Iowa City, but Iowa lost again over the weekend at Minnesota and fell to 5-5 in conference action.
Last Time Out:
With quite a few winnable games coming up after the contest against Michigan on Friday, Iowa could have put themselves in a decent position to make a push towards the top of the standings had it not been for the loss at Minnesota. Iowa kept it close all the way through, but never had a lead against the Golden Gophers. Sophomore Luke Garza led the way with 25 points and fellow forward Tyler Cook added 18 and a team high nine rebounds. Isaiah Moss was the main scoring threat on the perimeter, scoring a season high 23 points. He also grabbed six rebounds and the Hawkeyes’ ability to outrebound Minnesota was a big reason why the Hawkeyes were able to keep it close.
Who To Watch:
Tyler Cook and Luke Garza form a very potent frontcourt duo. Cook, a 6-9 junior, leads the team with 16.6 points and 8.1 rebounds. Cook is a dominating presence in the paint and has been extremely consistent this season. Garza has been on a roll lately and he could be the player that pushes Iowa towards an upset on Friday night. He has scored at least 20 points in each of the last four games and is a threat to knock down an occasional three-pointer. Last game at Minnesota, he connected on a season high three three-pointers and Garza is extremely difficult to defend if he is that consistent from beyond the arc.
Who Else To Watch:
The Hawkeyes have three backcourt players who average in double figures as well. Normally Iowa just needs one of Joe Wieskamp, Jordan Bohannon or Isaiah Moss to have a good game offensively and compliment the frontcourt. It will take more than that to knock off the Wolverines. All three are certainly capable. Wieskamp dropped 24 points on Illinois on January 20th. The game before that Jordan Bohannon scored 19 points and, of course, Moss scored 23 last game in Minneapolis.
Iowa will want to get back to their winning ways after back-to-back defeats, but that will not be easy against Michigan, even at home. The Wolverines have gotten past their loss at Wisconsin and have been playing even better defense than usual lately. It is going to take a huge effort from Iowa offensively to win this game. If this is a contest that stays in the 50’s, Michigan has a huge advantage. The Hawkeyes will want to up the tempo a little bit and hope their shots are falling more consistently than Michigan’s.