Inside the Matchup
The Hawkeyes roughed the Wolverines up twice last season, beating them by double digits in both games. Iowa took one on the chin last Wednesday against Purdue, but will come back home to take on Michigan, who is playing their first conference game.
These teams do have similarities, but they are fairly different as well. Michigan shoots a lot, and I mean a lot, of three point field goals. They have shot over 20 three pointers in every single game outside of one this season. They've made double digit three's in 6 of their 13 games and totaled 9 in 3 others. The saying "they live and die by the three" could not apply to the Wolverines more.
They made 13 in their win over SMU and 9 in their win over Marquette, but when they lost to South Carolina they made just 2 of their 26 attempts. The Wolverines lost that game by 15.
The Hawkeyes currently rank 11th in 3 point percentage defense in the Big Ten allowing opponents to make 35% of their three's, so they'll need to protect that three point line on Sunday afternoon.
On the flip side, the Hawkeyes have a couple guys that can really fill it up from beyond the arc as well. Peter Jok is one of the best shooters in the country, making 40% of this three's. Jordan Bohannon, Isaiah Moss, and Brady Ellingson are three other very capable shooters for the Hawkeyes with Ellingson leading the bunch making 64% of this long balls. This bodes well for Iowa because Michigan is the worst in the Big Ten at defending the 3 point arc.
This is going to come down to if Michigan is making their three's or not. They don't have a real back to the basket threat like Iowa has with Cordell Pemsl and Tyler Cook. Even the Wolverine forwards like to stretch the floor. Both Moritz Wagner and D.J. Wilson make a good percentage of their three's. Both forwards are athletic and will get some points in the paint, but I don't see either guy getting a lot against Iowa on Sunday.
The Hawkeyes, despite a horrible first half, played well in the second half against Purdue and it looked like they relaxed a bit. Unfortunately for them, it was over after half number one. They'll get Tyler Cook back in the starting lineup after a nice second half from him and he'll likely be settled in from the get go after struggling out of the gate against Purdue.
For the Hawkeyes, it's going to be about the first four minutes of action. If they don't let Michigan jump out to an early lead like they did Purdue, they'll be in it for the full 40 minutes.
Hawk to Rock
I'll say Tyler Cook for Sunday. I thought he played well in the second half of action on Wednesday night, especially given the fact that he was in foul trouble for the entire game. He settled in nicely after admitting he felt a little rushed in the first half. He's probably been itching to get back on the court at Carver Hawkeye and he creates problems for anyone given his athletic ability. I think Cook is going to get himself 16 points and 7 rebounds in his return to the starting lineup. If he stays out of foul trouble expect 31 minutes out of him as well.
I hit my Brady Ellingson pick on the head this past Wednesday, but it came in a loss for Iowa. I'll take Nicholas Baer in this game for Sunday. Baer gave Iowa good minutes on Wednesday night and he's a guy that is tough to prepare for if you're an opponent. He's deceptively long and it's hard to prepare for a kid that works as hard as he does. He's averaging 8 points and 7 rebounds a game and is coming off of 7 points and 7 boards against Purdue. He stuffs the stat sheet and does just about everything well. He's also averaging 2 assists, 1.5 steals, and a block per game. Give me Baer with 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks on Sunday.
It's hard to pick the Hawkeyes after watching what they did on the road last Wednesday, but I'm going to. I think they bounce back. They didn't panic after the loss to Purdue and know what to expect from Michigan coming up. Tyler Cook has a game under his belt and the second half against Purdue was at least mildly encouraging for me. I think Michigan struggles a bit from three point land and Iowa is able to pull a close one out.
IOWA 74 MICHIGAN 68