Inside the Matchup
The Hawkeyes and Huskers meet for the 28th time when they clash in Lincoln, NE tonight. It'll be the first time they've met since last year, to the date. The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series posting an 18-9 record against the Huskers. They played once last year with the Hawkeyes coming out on top, 77-66 in Iowa City.
The Hawkeyes struggled with talented Nebraska point guard, Tai Webster, in last years meeting, allowing him to score 22 points in 33 minutes off the bench. They did a good job controlling Glynn Watson, but he's taken a big time step this year being Webster's sidekick.
For the Hawkeyes, it's going to be about keeping Watson and Webster out of the lane. They are both quick guards that do most of their damage getting into the painted area. While that is primarily the case, Watson does shoot 40% from beyond the arc, so he can hurt you in multiple ways.
Webster, who scored 18 points in 32 minutes against Maryland on January 1st, had 7 points in the last two and a half minutes in that game against the Terps. He got the rim when he wanted and executed his shots to lead the Huskers to a slim two point victory.
This could lead me to believe that we'll see Iowa in a zone for a majority of the game. As good as Jordan Bohannon has been, he'd struggle keeping either Watson or Webster in front of him for a majority of the night. That isn't a knock on Bohannon, that speaks to the talent Tim Miles' guards possess.
On top of that, for the season, the Huskers are shooting just 31% from beyond the arc. So, they haven't exactly lit up back there.
Then comes a real challenge, keeping Ed Morrow, the Big Ten's leader in offensive rebounding, off the offensive glass. He had four against Maryland on Sunday and averages right around four per game.
In a zone, it's tough to find a guy and box out. Morrow is a guy that you always have to have a body on. He's so big and physical that he makes it really tough on teams on the glass.
Nebraska's Michael Jacobson might've been the unsung hero on Sunday afternoon. He posted 10 points and 9 rebounds, 7 of which came on the offensive glass. He's averaging 7.4 rebounds per game over the last 5 for the Huskers.
The Huskers are going to be tasked with stopping the Big Ten's leading scorer, Peter Jok. At this rate, I don't think you can game plan to try to stop him. You can only hope to slow him down and hope others don't hurt you. Jok hit big shots in Iowa's win over Michigan on Sunday, but so did guys like Jordan Bohannon and Cordell Pemsl. Couple this with Tyler Cook continuing to get his feet wet and Iowa poses quite the threat.
Cook has been good in the second half of both games since his return from injury, but I'm going to need two good halves from Tyler if Iowa is winning this game on the road.
With how well both Jok and Bohannon have been shooting the three, it's worth noting that the Huskers are allowing teams to shoot 37% from three, which is second to last in the Big Ten.
Hawk to Rock
I'm going with Peter Jok again. Obviously, it gets old picking him every single time out, but he's the guy. He's going to dominate the shots for Iowa and has proven he's going to make those shots as well. Nebraska has struggled with good guards like Bryce Alford, Maurice Watson, and Frank Mason. That is another reason I like Jok in this one.
I would assume Webster is going to matchup with him because he gives the Huskers the best shot at stopping him. Webster is 6'4" so he is closer to Jok than Watson is, who is just 6'. Miles probably throws double teams at Jok all night, but we've seen that from teams already this season.
If I had a backup pick, I'd say it's Jordan Bohannon. He's playing at such a high level over the first couple games of the Big Ten season. He scored 17 points against Michigan, had 6 assists, and did not turn the ball over in the win over the Wolverines. Also, if left open, he's knocking shots down.
Brady Ellingson and Nicholas Baer are the obvious picks because of how well they've played off the bench. But I'm going outside the box on this one. I'll say Dom Uhl.
Dom is averaging 5 points and 4 rebounds early on this season and is averaging just 4 points and 2 rebounds in 12 minutes per game in the Big Ten season, but he found a lot of success against the Huskers last season. Uhl had 10 points and 8 rebounds in 24 minutes last year in Iowa City and really played well. He isn't going to be the focal point of the defensive game plan, so I can see Uhl earning some hustle buckets and rebounds if he keeps his energy level high.
The Hawkeyes are going to play a zone. I think that's the only way they contain Watson and Webster. When those two get going, this is a very good Nebraska team. However, they're beatable. They have two very narrow wins over Indiana and Maryland and the Terrapins crapped the bed late in that game on New Year's Day. Iowa might struggle on the glass against Morrow and Jacobson, but I don't know if that's enough.
The Hawkeyes have the best player on the court and their young guys are performing well. Give me the Hawkeyes in Lincoln tonight.
IOWA 77 NEBRASKA 73