Iowa takes on Ohio State later today at 3:00 CST on CBS in Columbus at Value City Arena. The Hawkeyes enter the matchup 20-7 overall with an 11-4 conference record. The Buckeyes are a bubble team, tabbed with an 18-11 overall record and 10-6 in the Big Ten.
Iowa has lost three of their last four games. They notched an unimpressive home win over Minnesota, but fell to Indiana and Penn State on the road and were defeated at home for the first time all year by Wisconsin. Ohio State is the opposite, they're a bit hotter as they've won four of five. It includes two road wins over Rutgers and Nebraska and two wins at home against Northwestern and Michigan. The loss came at the hands of Michigan State by double-digits in their own building.
It's game featuring two teams going the opposite direction. Today will show us whether that trajectory continues or if momentum shifts.
Iowa just needs to play defense in this one. They have to be active on the perimeter and take away the outside shooting of Marc Loving, Keita Bates-Diop, JaQuan Lyle, and Kam Williams. The ones that can shoot it at a high clip are Loving, Bates-Diop, and Williams. Loving is a hot and cold guy who's effort tends to lack and chooses not to play defense for a large majority of the time. Bates-Diop can light it up but he has an apt of disappearing and is more of just a spot-up shooter. Williams is more versatile because he's a high-energy guy that can put it on the floor as well but isn't always active. He has potential to be very good later on but probably not right now and should be handled well by Clemmons and Gesell. Lyle is not a high percentage guy and not overly athletic like Gesell and Clemmons but does have a size advantage on them.
I say to take away and limit the perimeter shooting because there isn't a ton of offense that comes from anywhere else. Lyle can create some but he's not going to be able to penetrate much on Clemmons or Gesell. Their posts aren't high volume scorers. Daniel Giddens and Trevor Thompson are big bodies but not big-time scoring threats. Jae'Sean Tate is but he's an undersized four that could struggle offensively against someone like Jarrod Uthoff. Mickey Mitchell has yet to come into his own. I think the Buckeyes struggle to score against Iowa.
I would say Jarrod Uthoff has an extreme ability to take advantage of his size against Jae'Sean Tate but that is a dude that is hard to count out due to his energy, work ethic, and tenacity. He usually defeats the odds. If they think they need more size and length against Uthoff, they could go with Mickey Mitchell but that's a tough ask for a freshman. That would put Tate on Peter Jok. I'm not sure Jok has that much of an advantage of putting it on the deck but it would be a different demand for him to guard on the perimeter. Mitchell probably would struggle against Jok off the dribble.
It could be a game for one of the point guards to put up some numbers on the scoreboard. Gesell has really struggled to score, lately. Clemmons has scored more but probably wants a little more production. Today might be the day to do that. JaQuan Lyle and Marc Loving neither are overly quick like the Hawkeye guards. Neither prefer to play defense. Advantage, Iowa. Can Gesell finally get the monkey off his back? Today would be the day to do it.
Woodbury should have his way with the OSU bigs. They do have size and girth to compete with him but he's more of a work-horse. It's hard to go against him right now. He may be playing the best right now all-around of any center in the league.
EDIT: Jae'Sean Tate is done for the season.
I know it's in Columbus. I know Iowa is pressing. I know Ohio State has won four of five. I know the Hawkeyes have lost three of four. But the Hawkeyes have won their last two games against the Buckeyes in Value City Arena. They are due in my mind. I'm not a prisoner of the moment. There's plenty of time and the sky is not falling. It's a long year. Sometimes there's very, very good stretches and sometimes there's very, very bad stretches. They've had both.
I like Iowa to win. OSU isn't the best defensive team out there by a long shot. Iowa's offense has been on a skid long enough to where I expect them to break out in a big way at some point. This might be that time.
It also seems like a matchup that favors Iowa in a ton of areas. They have a lot of edges against the Buckeyes. They say the NCAA Tournament is all about match-ups and how certain teams are more suited against certain styles or teams of certain forms. I think this is a case where this is one that screams Iowa. The offensive matchups look good for them. The defensive matchups look good for them. They just have to keep OSU off the offensive glass and not turn the ball over.
OHIO STATE 69