Iowa looks to get back in the win column later today after falling to Indiana earlier in the week at Assembly Hall. At the time it made for a three-way tie atop the Big Ten standings between the Hawkeyes, Hoosiers, and Maryland. But with the Terps' loss to Wisconsin at home last night, Iowa and Indiana are alone once again in first place in the league.
The Hawkeyes return home to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to host Minnesota. It is a lopsided affair on paper. The Gophers have yet to win a conference game. Not only is Minnesota 0-12 in Big Ten play but they are also winless on the road. Of their 12 losses in conference action, only four are by double-digits.
The Gophers only lost at Michigan State by 8, to Indiana by 7 at home and in Bloomington by 6, at Michigan by 5 and in Ann Arbor by 8, and at home to Purdue by 4. So despite their putrid record, they have competed in most of their games, even against top-level competition.
Iowa is 10-2 in the league and 9 of those wins are by double-digits. The only one that wasn't was in West Lafayette against the Boilermakers.
I said following the loss to Maryland that Northwestern was coming into Carver-Hawkeye Arena at the wrong time. That was true. Despite Northwestern narrowing the defeat to 14 points within the last few minutes, Iowa dominated the game and held a comfortable 29 point lead.
I expect more of the same today. Minnesota should keep it close early with the Hawkeyes playing angry and determined and blowing them away later on. This is a team that has responded well to adversity all year. They rebounded from the Iowa State loss with a flurry, from the Maryland loss with impressive wins, and it should be identical following the loss in Bloomington.
There's no need to look at matchups here. Minnesota hasn't won a conference game or a win on the road. Iowa is motivated, angry, 10-2 in the league, and undefeated at home. This could be ugly.
Not a lot needs to be said. A narrow Iowa win would surprise me. They're going to be hungry today, have a lot of energy, and look to prove they're for real like they have all year. This isn't the time for the Gophers to arrive in Iowa City. You can bet Fran McCaffery has challenged his team this week, especially his bench. They come back to life today and the Gophers feel the wrath.