|The Iowa Hawkeyes will face off against the Michigan Wolverines at Carver-Hawkeye Arena tonight in a nationally televised contest. Iowa defeated Michigan 68-60 in their previous meeting on January 19th at Crisler Arena. That victory is still one of only two away from home this season for the Hawkeyes, the other being against UNI in Cedar Falls. Iowa has faired much better at home, especially in Big Ten play, going 3-3 with impressive wins over Michigan State and Ohio State. The Wolverines come to town fresh off a 5-point win over Penn State that halted a six-game losing streak. Michigan carries a record of 6-19 on the season with only two victories away from home (at Northwestern and vs. Eastern Washington in the Great Alaskan Shootout).|
Most of Michigan’s struggles this season have come on the defensive end of the floor. This season the Wolverines rank 2nd to last in the conference, ahead of only Northwestern, in defensive efficiency (or points allowed per 100 possessions). In conference games only, Michigan is allowing 1.09 points per possession defensively which ranks 9th in the Big Ten. Compare that to Iowa’s defense, which is holding opponents to just 0.99 points per possession in conference games. If the Hawkeyes can hold onto the ball on offense and limit turnovers, obviously a big if for this year’s squad, they should be able to find plenty of scoring opportunities against the Michigan defense.
On offense, the Wolverines are led by freshman guard Manny Harris who averages 15.9 points per game. However, Harris also leads the team averaging 3.6 turnovers per game. Michigan’s second leading scorer is 6-8 forward DeShawn Sims. Sims is averaging 12.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game on the season. As a team, Michigan is scoring 0.97 points per possession offensively compared to Iowa’s average of 0.91 points per possession.
Like almost every game the Hawkeyes play, the outcome will most likely be determined with defense and turnovers. Iowa likes to play at a slow pace (slowest in the Big Ten in fact) and force teams into a half court game. In the win at Michigan, Iowa turned the ball over 14 times on offense but was still able to win by 8. Of course, every one of Tony Freeman’s career-high 28 points helped the cause. If the Hawkeyes can limit turnovers to 15 or less they should be in good shape against a Wolverine team that has struggled mightily on the road this year. Tip-off is set for 8:05 and the game can be seen across the nation on ESPN.