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Iowa 13-3, 4-0 Big Ten; Michigan 13-4, 3-1 Big Ten
3:36 p.m. BTN (Jeff Levering, Jon Crispin)
Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa (game is sold out)
Iowa by 7
Michigan leads all-time 91-60; Iowa has won the last two meetings; teams have not played yet this year.
Iowa is ranked 16th by the AP and 19th in the USA Today/Coaches poll; Michigan is unranked
Iowa guard Mike Gesell vs. Michigan guard Derrick Walton Jr. Gesell, the Big Ten’s reigning player of the week, has directed the Hawkeyes to their first 4-0 start in league play since 1999. He sat out 18 minutes of the first half with foul trouble against Michigan State and still had six assists. He ranks second among Big Ten players in assists per game (6.9).
Walton Jr., a 6-foot-1 junior, had 12 points and 10 rebounds with four assists in an upset of No. 3 Maryland. He has become the primary catalyst on offense in the wake of Caris LeVert’s absence.
“I think (Walton is) a terrific player. I think it will be a good matchup with he and Mike,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “They’ve gone at it before, and they’re similar in a lot of ways. They’re competitors, they engineer victory, they load people up and they both can score.”
SCORING/OPP: Iowa 81.1/67.1; MICH 78.2/62.8
FG%/OPP FG%: Iowa 46.5/40.1; MICH 49.9/41.5
3PT%/OPP 3PT%: Iowa 40.2/29.6; MICH 42.6/34.6
FT%: Iowa 72.6: MICH 71.6
Iowa: G Mike Gesell (6-2; 9.8 ppg, 6.9 apg); G Anthony Clemmons (6-2; 8,0 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 3.6 apg); G Peter Jok (6-6; 13.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg); F Jarrod Uthoff (6-9; 18.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg; 3.3 bpg); C Adam Woodbury (7-1; 8.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
Michigan: G Derrick Walton Jr. (6-1, 10.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.8 apg); G Zak Irvin (6-6, 9.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg); G Muhammed-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (6-4, 6.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg), G Duncan Robinson (6-8, 12.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg); F Mark Donnal (6-9, 6.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
Iowa: G Brady Ellingson (6-4; 4.1 ppg, 0.9 rpg); F Dominique Uhl (6-9; 7.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg); F Nicholas Baer (6-7; 5.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg); F Ahmad Wagner (6-5, 2.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg)
Michigan: G Aubrey Dawkins (6-6, 7.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg); F Ricky Doyle (6-9, 4.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg); G Caris LeVert (6-7, 17.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 5.2 apg — injured); F Moritz Wagner (6-10, 3.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg)
Both of these teams like to shoot from 3-point range and are good at it. No Big Ten team has hit as many (186) or attempted as many as Michigan (437). The Wolverines rank second in the league in 3-point percentage (42.6) and hit 12 in an upset of Maryland.
Iowa ranks third in 3-point percentage (40.2), by far the best under McCaffery. The Hawkeyes torched Michigan State for nine 3-pointers in the first half alone. Iowa ranks second among Big Ten teams in 3-point defense (29.6), while Michigan ranks eighth (34.6).
Also, Division III transfer Duncan Robinson has become one of Michigan’s good stories this season. Robinson averaged 17.1 points a game as a freshman for Williams College in 2013-14. He sat out last season. He puts up 12.1 points a game as a sophomore for the Wolverines.
“He’s a Big Ten player,” McCaffery said. “Sometimes, and it’s been proven, that recruiting is not an exact science. In his case it’s nice that he ended up at the level where he belongs.”
On paper, the match-ups favor Iowa. The Wolverines are tremendous from the perimeter, but the Hawkeyes can match it. Last year, Iowa’s size dominated Michigan in an 18-point victory at Crisler Arena. The Hawkeyes have a similar advantage in the post with seniors Adam Woodbury and Jarrod Uthoff, plus solid reserves Dominique Uhl and Nicholas Baer.
Michigan boasts a solid four-guard set that could create problems for Iowa’s backcourt if they don’t take care of the ball. The best punch for the Wolverines is to apply significant defensive pressure and try to force either turnovers or bad shots. If Iowa can get into its offense or run its fast break, this game could end up in the same vein as their previous two meetings.
I think this one stays close for a while because few (if any) teams are as well-coached as Michigan. Coach John Beilein is well-versed in his team’s deficiencies and how Iowa plans to attack it. If Michigan guard Caris LeVert was playing, he could give the Wolverines a puncher’s chance. But the Hawkeyes have too much experience and too many weapons, coupled with a strong home-court advantage. Uthoff leads the league in scoring and blocked shots. He’s a mismatch for any team and especially Michigan. Woodbury is a tenacious post defender and an underrated passer. Michigan doesn’t have an answer for either player.
Prediction: Iowa 78, Michigan 68
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