BTT Preview: Game 1
|#8 Iowa vs. #9 Michigan|
11:00 AM - Big Ten Network
The 2008 Big Ten Tournament will begin on Thursday when Iowa faces off against the Michigan Wolverines at 11:00AM in Indianapolis. The Hawkeyes and Wolverines will play in the 8-9 game on the first day of the Big Ten Tournament. Iowa and Michigan split their two meetings in the regular season and have both been struggling down the stretch. Iowa lost 6 of their last 8 games, with the only two wins coming against conference cellar-dweller Northwestern. The Wolverines finished the regular season on a three-game losing streak including a very bad loss at home to Northwestern.
Both Michigan and Iowa have struggled mightily on the offense throughout the season. The Hawkeyes actually rank last in the Big Ten in offensive efficiency; Michigan ranks 9th. The Hawks can rest most of the blame for their inefficiency on turnovers. Iowa finished the season with a turnover rate over 25, which means the Hawkeyes turned the ball over on more than 25% of their possessions. That was by far the worst percentage in the Big Ten this year. Iowa was stronger on the defensive end than the Wolverines, and the Hawks have improved their team defense as the season progressed. Michigan’s defense has also been improving, especially in their final 8 games, thanks to a better rebounding effort by the Wolverines down the stretch.
Historically, the Hawkeyes have seen a lot of success in the Big Ten Tournament. In fact, Iowa is tied for second with Ohio State in terms of all-time winning percentage at the Big Ten Tourney. Both Iowa and OSU are 13-8 with two tournament championships in the ten-year history of the Big Ten Tournament. The best team historically is Illinois, which boasts a record of 18-8 to go along with their two tournament titles. Michigan has an all-time Big Ten Tournament record of 7-9 and has won the tourney one time, although the Big Ten has since stripped that title due to the Wolverines being placed on probation for the year they won.
Michigan and Iowa have met twice before in the Big Ten Tournament with the Wolverines winning both meetings. However, the Hawkeyes have been in the opening round 5 out of 10 years and have only lost one of those five Thursday games. Also good news for Hawk fans is the fact that the #8-seed has a record of 8-2 all-time against the #9-seed on Thursday of the Big Ten Tournament. The Hawkeyes have never been the #8-seed before, but Iowa is still the only team in Big Ten Tournament history to win 4 games in 4 days and become tournament champion. If the Hawkeyes can get past Michigan and move on in the bracket, they will definitely have their hands full in their second round match-up with top-seeded Wisconsin.