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Iowa Basketball: Previewing Iowa's Trip to Minneapolis to take on the Gophers

Iowa takes on Minnesota on the road looking for their fourth straight win.

Iowa (14-10, 6-5) at Minnesota (16-7, 4-6)

Date & Time: February 8th, 8:06 p.m. CT

Location: Williams Arena (Minneapolis, MN)

TV: BTN 

Quick Notes

- Iowa is 22-37 on the road during Fran McCaffery's tenure, including 1-4 this season.

- Brady Ellingson is averaging 11.3 points and 4.3 assists per game in the last three. Also, shooting 71% from the field. 

- The teams have split the last 12 meetings, but Minnesota holds a 62-35 advantage on games played in Minneapolis.

- Iowa is riding it's first three game winning streak in conference play of the season. 

- Minnesota has lost 6-of-7, including the last two at home. They are 1-3 in Big Ten home games this season.

- Peter Jok had 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in 30 minutes on Sunday in his return to action.

- The Gophers rank second in the country in blocked shots per game (6.4).

- Reggie Lynch is fourth in the nation averaging a shade over 3 blocks per game. He's a transfer from Illinois State. 

- Iowa won the only meeting last year by a final of 75-71 in Iowa City. 

- Minnesota has four players averaging double figures with Nate Mason leading the way averaging 14 points per game. 

- Amir Coffery has been one of the better freshman in the conference. He's averaging 12 points and 4 rebounds in about 31 minutes per game for Richard Pitino. 

Iowa Starters

Jordan Bohannon (FR): Bohannon is coming off freshman of the week honors after averaging 16 points per game in 2 Iowa wins over the past week. He's really stepped his game up and has been one of the more impressive freshman guards in the conference. If he's on from three, which he has been recently, he can be a nightmare for opposing coaches.

Isaiah Moss (RSFR): He's still been hit and miss over the last five games and hasn't played over 20 minutes in each of the five. Right now, it's about how well Ellingson is playing. Most of Moss's minutes are going to Brady since he is playing at such a high level. Moss still brings a good shooter to the lineup and he's Iowa's best perimeter defender. He has the ability to go off at any moment.

Peter Jok (SR): Jok returned from injury on Sunday against Nebraska. He played 30 minutes, totaled 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. He struggled from the field, but 8-of-8 at the free throw line really helped Iowa seal up a victory. I expect Jok to be sharper on Wednesday against Minnesota. 

Ahmad Wagner (SO): The Hawkeyes are 8-1 when Ahmad Wagner starts games. Not sure if it's coincidence or the fact that he gives them a lot of energy to tip off a contest. He had 6 points and 3 rebounds in 15 minutes on Sunday, but continues to give Iowa what they need. He's a relentless rebounder, but just needs to get some of those put-back attempts to fall.

Tyler Cook (FR): He's been in double figures in the last three games and continues to assert himself on the offensive end. He's not playing big minutes, but has shot over 50% from the floor in each of the last three games. When he gets position on the block, he's incredibly hard to stop for opposing teams because of his strength and athleticism. 

Iowa Bench

Nicholas Baer (RSSO): He was removed from the starting lineup in favor of Jok on Sunday, but he still played 24 minutes and stuffed the stat sheet with 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks. He's arguably the most consistent Hawkeye on the team and is a valuable piece to the Iowa bench that has been so clutch the last three games. 

Brady Ellingson (RSSO): The star of the last couple of games is definitely Ellingson. He had 11 points in the win over Nebraska and all of them came in the second half. Two of his five assists did as well. He's playing incredibly well over the course of the last few games and has been a key piece to Iowa as a whole. He's arguably been the most important player on the team. Over the last 8 games he has 18 assists and 0 turnovers. 

Cordell Pemsl (FR): Six points, 4 rebounds, and a couple of assists were just what Iowa needed from Pemsl on Sunday as he continues to embrace a bench role. Pemsl gives Iowa's second unit a nice scoring option.

Ryan Kriener (FR): He didn't play much in the last couple of games, but did have 14 points and 7 rebounds against Ohio State a few games back. I'm not sure why Ryan hasn't played much, but if called upon he'll give Iowa good minutes. He's proven he can.

Christian Williams (SO): Usually he's called upon to spell Jordan Bohannon, but he totaled just 6 minutes against Nebraska as well as two points. They came at the charity stripe and he did not attempt a shot from the field in the win.

Dom Uhl (JR): He's been giving Iowa good minutes ever since coming back from the hand injury. He seems to be more energetic and that is helping Iowa a lot. He had 7 points on 2-of-2 shooting, including 1-of-1 from behind the arc.

Minnesota Starters 

Nate Mason (JR): It seems like Nate Mason has been in a Gopher uniform forever, but he's just a junior. He's the leading scorer on the team and has scored in double figures in the last three ball games. He gives the Gophers an experienced guard that can score as well as facilitate. 

Amir Coffey (FR): Coffey was in Scout's Top 100 for the 2016 class and he's showing why during his freshman season. He's averaging 12 points per game and is shooting 34% from behind the arc. He can get to the rim as well as knock down the three and at 6'8" and extremely athletic, he's a bit tough to guard. If Coffey is on he's one of the best freshman in the Big Ten.

Akeem Springs (SR): Springs is mostly a guy that chucks it up from long distance. He's shooting over 40% from three this year so Iowa will need to know where he is at at all times. He's scored in double figures in the last four games. And is shooting 46% from three in that time.

Jordan Murphy (SO): Murphy gave Iowa all sorts of problems last year, but isn't taking on a huge role this year due to the talent he now has around him. He's still getting 9 points and 7 boards per night, but he's got a lot more help this year. Murphy is still a guy that is capable of really hurting you if you aren't careful. Especially on the glass. 

Reggie Lynch (JR): One of the more impactful transfers in the Big Ten is Lynch. He gives the Gophers a big time shot blocking presence, averaging just over 3 blocks per game. He also is giving them 9 points and 6 rebounds per night. 

Things to Watch

The Glass

Iowa struggled a bit on the defensive glass against Nebraska, allowing 16 offensive rebounds. You can sometimes overcome little things like that in a home environment, but on the road it gets a little tougher. Minnesota has long athletes that really get after you on the glass, so Iowa needs to prevent them from attacking the offensive glass like Nebraska did on Sunday. Ryan Kriener could be featured a lot in this game to help keep them off the glass because Iowa is going to need every big body they have. Minnesota is third in the Big Ten averaging a shade over 39 rebounds per game.

Steady Bench

The bench has been marvelous in the last three games, amassing 110 points in the last three games. This has been a big reason why Iowa is on their little 3-game tear. They've gotten contributions from 10 guys night in and night out and that isn't something a lot of teams can say. It's especially remarkable because Iowa is so young at their core. If guys like Ellingson, Baer, Pemsl, and Uhl continue playing at such a high level it makes to hard on opposing teams because it makes Iowa hard to guard for the entire 40 minutes. When you have an army of guys you can throw out there, it has to keep opposing coaches up at night.

Road Games

Iowa has only one win on the road this season and it came in their last one at Rutgers. The last four road games are especially tough and it starts tonight at Minnesota. Teams have had success winning up inside Williams Arena this year, but it's still a tough place to play and the fans will definitely be out in full force for a home game against Iowa. The hope is that the Hawkeyes built off their win over Rutgers on the road, but it really wasn't much of a game as Iowa was in control from the tip. They get Peter Jok back for the trek up north, but road games in the Big Ten are never easy and I don't expect this one to be much different for Iowa.

Predictions

Minnesota is reeling a bit in the last few weeks and the Hawkeyes are on the up-swing. The Gophers have struggled at their place with opposing Big Ten teams, but I am not exactly sure why. Minnesota doesn't go very deep, but the 7 or 8 that they do run out there are very talented players. At 4-6 in the conference I think many would agree that they are underachieving at this point. With how hot Iowa is, I don't know if the Gophers are going to knock them off. Many are chalking it this up as a loss, but give me Iowa in this one.

Iowa 74 Minnesota 70 


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