By Justin VanLaere
Iowa heads to Evanston, a place that has not been kind to them, to take on a Northwestern squad clinging to NCAA tournament hopes (sound familiar?). If Iowa wants to entertain any sort of postseason thoughts, a win on the road vs. a Top 50 RPI team like the Wildcats would go a long ways in helping out.
Iowa Hawkeyes (13-11; 5-6) vs Northwestern (14-8; 4-6)
POMEROY RATINGS: Iowa – 99, Northwestern – 68
REALTIMERPI: Iowa – 123, Northwestern – 37
CBS RPI: Iowa – 128, Northwestern – 37
MASSEY RANKING: Iowa – 100, Northwestern – 53
SAGARIN RATINGS: Iowa – 107, Northwestern – 68
Tip Off: Thursday, February 9th, 2012; 8:05 PM CST
Evanston, IL; Welsh-Arena Arena, 8,117
TV: ESPNU, ESPN3.com
Radio: AM 600, 1040, and 800. Sirius: 93 | XM: 191
Iowa leads 108-55 in the all-time series.
LINE: Iowa is a 7 point underdog on the road. Pomeroy predicts a 7 point Iowa loss.
LIVE CHAT: Click HERE for the link.
G – Devyn Marble, 6’6”, 194 lb, SO
G – Matt Gatens, 6’5”, 212 lb, SR
G – Bryce Cartwright, 6’1”, 188 lb, SR
F – Aaron White, 6’8”, 225 lb, FR
F – Zach McCabe, 6’7”, 232 lb, SO
G – Dave Sobolewski, 6’1″, FR
G – Reggie Hearn, 6’4″, JR
G – Alex Marcotullio, 6’3″, JR
F – Drew Crawford, 6’5″, JR
F – John Shurna, 6’9″, SR
Here’s a look at a graphical comparison of the teams from statsheet.com
Both teams are looking for their first 3 game conference win streaks in long time. Northwestern hasn’t won three conference games in a row since 2009. Iowa, on the other hand, hasn’t accomplished that feat since 2007, in Steve Alford’s last season as coach. If Iowa wins this game, it will be the latest point in the season since 2007 that they have been .500 or better in conference.
Iowa hasn’t won in Evanston since 2008 and has dropped six of their last seven in Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Northwestern has not lost to a team ranked outside the Top 50 of the Pomeroy Ratings (worst losses were on the road vs Creighton, home vs. Illinois, and away vs. Minnesota).
In conf play only – Iowa is the worst in the B1G in allowing offensive rebounds. Northwestern is the worst in the B1G in defensive efficiency, FT%, and offensive rebounding %.
KEYS TO GAME FOR IOWA:
– Shooting From the Hip. Whoever Iowa sticks on John Shurna should focus at his belt. It’ll be the best way to defend his insanely unorthodox shot that starts at below his waist. I mean, how hard can it be? Just slap it away when he goes to shoot from his hip. Somehow, despite making Bill Cartwright look like he has the perfect form, Shura scores a ton of points in a variety of ways. In a stat only Northwestern would keep, Shurna has made the most 3 pointers by a D-1 player 6’9″ or taller. Iowa can’t be too intent in stopping Shurna, as Drew Crawford is putting up some mighty fine numbers, as well.
– Stay the Hell out of Zone. Teams torch Iowa from the outside when the Hawkeyes get into zone. Defending the Princeton offense from a zone can be effective at time, but it leaves too many open shooters. When Northwestern hits at least three pointers in a game, they are 9-1. They’ve made 20 of them in a game already this season. In their two games last year, Northwestern made a combined 26 treys. Yeah, let’s avoid zone, Iowa.
– Run and Gun. Let’s face it, neither of these teams is going to dominate this game with defense. Northwestern is going to make Iowa work on both ends. On the offensive side, NW will bring the backdoor cuts and crisp passes. On defense, they’ll likely throw out Carmody’s 1-3-1. The less Iowa sees these, the better. Get out and run, press a bit.
PREDICTION: Northwestern is going to be crazy hungry for this win. They need it to get themselves back into the talk for the NCAA Bubble. Iowa will certainly get their best shot. A lot of people like the Wildcats in this one, including Vegas. I can see why. If the Hawkeyes can avoid a barrage of triples from Northwestern, they have a shot to win. In fact, I think they do. Iowa gets the anti-Michael Jenkins ending to this one. FINAL SCORE: Iowa 86, Northwestern 84