The 9th ranked Hawkeyes return to the hardwood at 1 p.m. CST today when they host #22 Purdue. It is a rematch of a game that took place on January 2 in Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers squandered a 19 point first half lead as Iowa marched back for the shocking 70-63 win.
Matt Painter and Purdue are 4-1 since that letdown with the only loss coming in a disappointing performance at Illinois. The Boilermakers did defeat Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State at home and went on the road to humiliate Rutgers by 50.
The Hawkeyes have obviously not since that contest in Mackey Arena. They've completed the sweep of Michigan State, knocked off Michigan at home, and gotten road wins at Nebraska and Rutgers.
The Boilermakers will have revenge on their minds after the embarrassing meltdown at home against Iowa at the beginning of the 2016 calendar year. They'll try to give the Hawkeyes their first home loss of the year.
One area Purdue has in their favor is the obvious size advantage. They'll start A.J. Hammons who is a legitimate 7-foot center, freshman Caleb Swanigan who is listed at 6-foot-9, and Vince Edwards who stands at 6-foot-7. They'll also use the 7-foot-2 Isaac Haas off the bench. Outside of Adam Woodbury, Iowa doesn't have anyone that can contend with that size in extended fashion. They can throw some different bodies like Ahmad Wagner, Jarrod Uthoff, and Dom Uhl at the Purdue bigs, but those are more periodical and temporary options than anything, except for maybe Wagner. Games like this are ones that guys like Wagner can really grow up and emerge. He's going to be asked to guard guys much bigger than him his whole career. He might as well begin now. He's physical, athletic, strong, and tough enough to hang so nothing is holding him back other than experience and some physical limitations in terms of height.
It does demand that Woodbury stay out of foul trouble. You can get away with it at Rutgers but not against Purdue, even if it is at home. He becomes even more important because Uthoff is likely who McCaffery will want on Swanigan since he can step outside and knock down shots. That's one less big to throw at Hammons or Haas.
Offensively, I like Iowa's ability to score in this. Purdue protects the rim very well. So what? Iowa's offense doesn't go through Woodbury. It goes through tempo and ball movement. They can win games without relying on scoring near the rim. Purdue's front line will have to step away from the basket on defense more than they are comfortable doing. Swanigan will have to guard Uthoff, at least in the early going when looking at the starting 5's for each, and I think the Hawkeyes can expose that matchup.
Lots of points. I think Woodbury stays out of trouble but I do think Purdue brings their 'A' game and makes it tough on Iowa regardless. I also think Iowa is a tough matchup for the Boilermakers on the other end. Both teams should be able to score at their typical pace, perhaps more. I'm calling for a shootout and it likely comes down to the final possession or two in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Purdue wants revenge but I'll side with the home team in a nail-biter.