Iowa City, Iowa – Iowa’s loss to Michigan on Wednesday guaranteed that the Hawkeyes will finish under .500 in the regular season for the first time since Fran McCaffery’s first season with the Hawkeyes. With the season falling away from Iowa, the final three games of the year are just going to be learning moments for a young Hawkeye team that fell flat on its face with high expectations.
Coming to town on Saturday for a nationally-televised game is another young but talented team. Indiana flattened the Hawkeyes in their first meeting way back in early December, and have played extremely well over the past month. They’ve won their last three games against Big Ten bottom-feeders, all by double-digits. Iowa is another one of those bottom-feeders. The Hawkeyes have lost four straight.
The last time the two teams met, Indiana forced 18 turnovers and dominated the Hawkeyes inside, giving them minimal room to work with. Jack Nunge, an Indiana native, and Brady Ellingson were the only two Hawkeyes in double figures in scoring. Iowa fell victim to an 18-0 run early in the second half and never recovered.
This time around, Indiana will not have talented big man De’Ron Davis, who has not played since January 2 with a torn Achilles. It hasn’t seemed to matter much to the Hoosiers, who have been dominant inside defensively and offensively over the past two weeks. 6-foot-7 Juwan Morgan is undersized, but skilled inside, while Zach McRoberts is in the top five of the conference in steals, and Freddie McSwain is a machine on the boards.
In the backcourt, Indiana relies off of its duo of Josh Newkirk, a Pittsburgh transfer who is talented but inconsistent, and the crafty senior Robert Johnson. Devonte Green and Al Durham round out a backcourt rotation that is young but has the chance to go off on any given night. In Wednesday’s win over Illinois, Indiana had three different players score in double digits off the bench.
Indiana is ranked just inside the top 100 in the nation in adjusted offense, and just outside the top 50 in adjusted defense. The good news for the Hawkeyes is that Indiana is one of the worst teams in the nation at shooting threes, an area the Hawkeyes have obviously struggled to defend this year. Defensively, the Hoosiers’ kryptonite has been defending the three-point line themselves – they allow opponents to shoot a higher percentage behind the arc than the Hawkeyes do, actually. That should be an area Iowa should target to go to on offense.
Prediction: Indiana wins, 75-67. This should be a closer game than expected, but Indiana has been playing too well to fall apart against this slumping Iowa group.