How To Watch & Listen
Iowa (10-9; 1-5) At Rutgers (11-8; 1-5)
Where: The RAC (capacity 8,000)
Tip-off: Wednesday, January 17th at 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: BTN - Kevin Kugler and Shon Morris
Radio: WCTC 1450 AM, WOR 710 AM, Sirius 81, XM 81 - Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan; WRSU 88.7 FM
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers #135; Iowa #88
(Note: Rutgers fell 16 spots since the 22 point loss to Ohio State)
KenPom Prediction: Iowa 71 Rutgers 70; Rutgers has an 49% chance to win
Vegas Line: Rutgers -1 was opening line, now Iowa -1 at 5:45 P.M.
SB Nation Iowa site: Black Heart Gold Pants
The Hawkeyes enter tonight’s game well rested, as they haven’t played since last Thursday’s overtime victory against Illinois, which was the first Big Ten win of the season for Iowa. They own two top 100 wins this season against UAB and the Illini.
They are one of the youngest teams in the country, as seven of their top eight leading scorers, all of whom are averaging at least 5.8 points per game, are freshman and sophomores. Head coach Fran McCaffery loves to rotate players in and out, as eleven players average at least 10 minutes per game.
This team can score, as they average 82 points a game and are shooting a solid 48.3% from the floor and 37.9% from three-point range. Their top four big men are all shooting 52% or better. Iowa is also a strong team on the glass, as they average over 40 boards a game and are 33rd in Division I with a 34.7% offensive rebounding rate. The Hawkeyes are ranked 6th out of 14 Big Ten teams on offense in conference play through six games.
Iowa’s two biggest weaknesses are with turnovers and on defense. The Hawkeyes turn it over a lot and don’t force many takeaways of their opponents. They do pose problems on the interior, as they average 5 blocks a game and are 62nd in Division I with an 11.9% block rate. However, Iowa is ranked 13th out of 14 teams in Big Ten play so far on the defensive end. Rutgers is 10th, but have played the top three Big Ten offensive teams four times in six contests, while Iowa has only played one of them.
Here are per game statistical averages for key players on Iowa:
6’9” sophomore forward Tyler Cook - 15.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists
6’0” sophomore guard Jordan Bohannon - 13.0 points, 5.0 assists, 2.3 rebounds
6’5” sophomore guard Isaiah Moss - 12.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists
6’11” freshman center Luke Garza - 10.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.3 blocks
6’11” freshman forward Jack Nunge - 6.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.9 blocks
6’7” junior forward Nicholas Baer - 5.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals. 0.9 blocks
6’7” sophomore guard Maishe Dailey - 5.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists
6’8” sophomore forward Cordell Pemsl - 5.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Know Your Three-Point Shooters:
Jordan Bohannon - 52 of 119 for 43.7%
Maishe Dailey - 19 of 45 for 42.2%
Brady Ellingson - 14 of 37 for 37.8%
Jack Nunge - 13 of 37 for 37.1%
Isaiah Moss - 31 of 84 for 36.9%
Nicholas Baer - 13 of 40 for 32.5%
Rutgers is ranked sixth in Division I in both offensive rebounding (14.3) and overall rebounding (41.8)...... They are also ninth in scoring defense (62.1 ppg) and thirteenth in FG% defense (38.7%)..... Rutgers is 6-0 when holding opponents to 59 points or less this season.....Senior captain Mike Williams is out indefinitely with an ankle injury....Iowa reserve guard Maishe Dailey was a one-time Rutgers commit under former head coach Eddie Jordan, but decommitted before new head coach Steve Pikiell was hired.
Keys To Victory
Handle The Zone Of Iowa
Against Hartford, Rutgers struggled mightily against the 1-3-1 zone. I hoped that experience could help them in the future and that day has now come. Iowa is not a strong defensive team and they utilized a 1-3-1 zone at times in their overtime win over Illinois last week. They also play a 2-3 zone, so Rutgers will need to be ready to attack either one in this game. Having a big man flash at the top of the key and attacking from there could help, which is what made Eugene Omoruyi so effective against the zone of Florida State earlier this season. Rutgers cannot settle for long jumpers and need to find the seams of the zone and penetrate through them. Ball movement on the perimeter is essential, as Iowa has a tendency to get flat footed on reversals and are vulnerable on the wings. Corey Sanders and Geo Baker need to attack and look for those open gaps in the zone. There is also another key to being effective against the zone, which leads me to....
Offensive Rebounding & Second Chance Points
It is harder for teams playing a zone to rebound on the defensive end, because players are guarding space rather than a specific man. Therefore, its harder to get a body on someone and box them out. When Rutgers is at its best, the entire team is attacking the offensive glass. They must have that mindset tonight and when they do attack the glass, it's hugely important that they grab them and take advantage of second chance scoring opportunities. The more Rutgers can do damage near the rim off of offensive rebounds, the less effective any zone that Iowa uses will be. In order to win the game, Rutgers needs to be dominant in this area. Every player needs to fight for rebounds and wear down the Hawkeyes.
A major reason to be optimistic for this game is that Iowa is turnover prone and Rutgers has the lowest turnover rate in the Big Ten at 14.0%. This area has been a major improvement for the Scarlet Knights this season and it needs to continue tonight. The Hawkeyes average 14 turnovers per game and have an offensive steal rate of 277th in DI, which is not good. Not only is Rutgers taking care of the basketball, they are forcing their opponents into turnovers, as they have the 3rd best turnover rate on defense in conference play at 20%. Iowa is dead last in conference play in coughing it up 21.5% of the time, so this is an obvious advantage Rutgers needs to exploit.
Defend The Three
Iowa is a perimeter based team that can shoot the rock, including some of their big men. Guard Jordan Bohannon is particularly worrisome, as he is very proficient from behind the arc (43.7%, 2.7 made three's per game). Transition defense is key, as Iowa will look to push the pace off of Rutgers’ misses. If the Scarlet Knights aren’t efficient in getting back on defense, the Hawkeyes will carve them up by knocking down open three’s off of the break. Iowa is shooting 39.8% from behind the arc in Big Ten play and Rutgers has struggled defending the three in six conference games, allowing opponents to shoot 37.5%, which is 8th in the league. They also have last year’s game at the RAC against Iowa to remind them of how quickly they can fall behind against them, as the Hawkeyes were 11 of 18 from three-point range and were up by 18 points at the half. Obviously, Rutgers needs to avoid that type of performance tonight and can’t afford to fall behind by double digits.
Supporting Cast Please Stand Up
There is no doubt that Corey Sanders and Deshawn Freeman need to play well tonight for Rutgers to win. That’s simply the case ever game. However, they need a strong effort from the supporting cast around them as well, especially with Mike Williams out (9.2 points, 4.2 rebounds in 22 minutes). Issa Thiam is the team’s best deep threat, shooting 38.6% from behind the arc. Eugene Omoruyi has been solid defensively and has a three game streak going of drawing two charges per contest, but he’s only shooting 33% and averaging 6 points in his last six games. Mamadou Doucoure tends to be aggressive offensively against big frontcourts, as he scored 13 against Minnesota and 8 against Purdue, while not producing much in Big Ten play otherwise. Geo Baker is mired in a five game shooting slump where he is just 14 of 53 from the field for 26.4%. However, he did get hot from three-point range against Ohio State, making 4 of 8. All of these four players need to have their moments tonight in order for Rutgers to win this game. Getting four to five players to score in double digits is a must against such a high scoring team like Iowa.
In The Bonus
If Rutgers wants to have a winning season and finish better than last place in the Big Ten, they need to win this game. I'm sure Pikiell has reminded them of their performance last year at home against Iowa, which was the team's worst effort at the RAC the entire season. This is a major opportunity to put some separation between themselves and Iowa, as well as Illinois, with a victory tonight. Rutgers lacked fight and effort without their leader in Mike Williams in the loss to Ohio State on Sunday night. However, they hadn’t had a lot of time to adjust without him, as the injury occurred at the end of practice the day before. Now that they have had a couple days to regroup, I expect this team to come out hungry for a win. The students are back and hopefully after a solid overall turnout from the Rutgers faithful on Sunday, the RAC is packed again tonight. There is no doubt this is a major test for this team at this point in the season. Let's hope they can pass it.