116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Last November, Michigan Coach Juwan Howard signed what is regarded as the top 2021 recruiting class in men's college basketball.
Tuesday, three of his six signees were named to this year's McDonald's All-American team. Only one other player on that 24-man honor squad is headed to the Big Ten as of now, to Michigan State.
That's not great for the conference's other 13 teams, who have already spent the last several weeks looking up at the Wolverines in the conference standings.
Michigan Coach Juwan Howard has no former McDonald's honorees on his current roster, yet his team is 16-1 overall and 11-1 in the Big Ten.
Thursday at 6 p.m. (ESPN), No. 9 Iowa gets its first shot this season at No. 3 Michigan when the teams meet at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines continued their winning ways Sunday with a 92-87 win at No. 4 Ohio State for their fifth-straight triumph. The Hawkeyes (17-6, 11-5) are winners of four straight themselves.
Win or lose, Iowa will turn around and play at No. 4 Ohio State Sunday afternoon. It's a four-day stretch that lets the Hawkeyes show where they really stand in late February.
'It's just a great opportunity for us to show what we're capable of,' Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon said this week.
Bohannon needs three assists to pass Jeff Horner as Iowa's all-time leader. Bohannon has 610 after getting six in the Hawkeyes' last game, a 74-68 home win over Penn State Sunday.
The senior from Marion already is Iowa's runaway leader in career 3-pointers with 340. More than once this season, he has said the assists mark is the one that would mean the most to him.
'I always thought of myself as a great point guard and continue to try to lead the team,' Bohannon said, 'and being a great point guard means you have to be able to have a great assist-to-turnover ratio and know when to find guys when they're hot.'
One of those guys is center Luka Garza, the beneficiary of countless Bohannon post feeds in becoming Iowa's all-time leading scorer. Garza, the nation's scoring leader this season, will contend with Michigan 7-foot-1 freshman Hunter Dickinson, who had 22 points at Ohio State Sunday.
The Wolverines have many other excellent players. Forward Franz Wagner may eventually join brother and former Michigan player Moritz Wagner in the NBA. Isaiah Livers is a senior wing who is a good shooter and rebounder. Senior guard Eli Brooks averaged 19 points over two games against the Hawkeyes last season.
The difference in Michigan from the team that went 10-10 in the Big Ten last year in Howard's first year as its coach? 'It's the grad transfers,' said Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery.
Guard Mike Smith averaged 22.8 points last season at Columbia. He has 5.3 assists per contest in Big Ten play. Forward Chaundree Brown was a three-year starter at Wake Forest before joining the Wolverines. He averages 8.5 points off the bench as a 3-point threat.
'Livers and Wagner are all-league players,' McCaffery said. 'Eli Brooks is terrific. They're all veteran guys. But then you take the guy who led the Ivy League in scoring and you take Wake Forest's best player, and those guys are 21, 22 years old and you plug them in with that other group.'
This game is on ESPN with Dick Vitale on commentary, it's the Big Ten leader as the opposition. If the Hawkeyes are to be what they want to be and think they are, there hasn't a better time to show it this season.
Comments: (319) 398-8440; firstname.lastname@example.org