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Iowa Basketball: Previewing Iowa's First Round NIT Matchup Against South Dakota

Taking a glance at Iowa's first round NIT matchup with the South Dakota Coyotes.

South Dakota (22-11, 12-4) at Iowa (18-14, 10-8)

Date & Time: March 15th, 8:01 p.m. CT

Location: Carver Hawkeye Arena (Iowa City, IA)

TV: ESPN2

Quick Notes

- Iowa earned a number one seed for the first time ever in the NIT this season.

- South Dakota won the Summit League regular season title, which led to an automatic bid to the NIT if they did not win their conference tournament.

- They lost in the second round of the Summit League tourney to eventual champ, South Dakota State.

- Former Iowa point guard, Trey Dickerson averages just a hair over 10 points per game for the Coyotes. 

- Iowa is 3-0 in NIT home games under Fran McCaffery.

- Before the loss in the Summit League Conference Tournament, South Dakota had won 7 straight games.

- The Coyotes average 25 free throw attempts per game. They are one of just six teams in the nation that average that total or more. They make 18 of their 25 per game.

- Matt Mooney and Tyler Flack were both tabbed as first team All-Summit League players. 

- The Hawkeyes have won 7 of their last 11 games heading into the NIT.

- South Dakota is coached by a former Nebraska assistant, Craig Smith. Smith was the Summit League Coach of the Year this season after his team posted a 12-4 conference record.

- Iowa lost just two non-conference home games this season. Once to Seton Hall and the other to Omaha. 

- The Hawkeyes and Coyotes have met 11 times in the all-time series. Iowa won the last meeting by 24 points in Iowa City back in 2012.

Iowa Starters

Jordan Bohannon (FR): A member of the All-Freshman team, Jordan has dazzled us in his first year in Iowa City. He's scored in double figures in four of the last five games and has averaged over 6 assists per game during that stretch. He's been one of the most consistent Hawkeyes and if he gets going, USD might be in for a long night.

Isaiah Moss (RSFR): Moss played just five minutes in the loss to Indiana the first time out, but played 28 in the loss in the Big Ten Tournament. He scored 11 points and had 5 steals as well. That's sort of been Isaiah's thing this year. He's up and down and Fran McCaffery never really seems to know what kind of production he'll get from him offensively. His minutes have steadily increased over the last couple games.

Peter Jok (SR): It was a pretty lackluster performance in the Big Ten Tournament from Jok, who scored just 9 points in 33 minutes. He looked checked out from the beginning while playing defense out in transition. He was crucial in the first meeting against Indiana and against Penn State in the second half. Iowa can really bury teams when Jok gets going, especially if the freshman continue to play like they have been.

Ahmad Wagner (SO): Wagner is usually good for some garbage buckets and hustle plays with his athleticism. And he continues to do just that. He had four points in the loss to Indiana in about 13 minutes.

Tyler Cook (FR): Cook has been really active in the last five games or so and that continued against Indiana in the Big Ten Tourney. He had 8 points and 7 boards in limited action, which was due to foul trouble. If not for that, he was likely headed for a third double double in the last five games. If he shows the same aggressiveness he has been as of late on Wednesday night, I don't think South Dakota has anyone that can slow him down.

Iowa Bench

Nicholas Baer (RSSO): Baer might've played his worst game as a Hawkeye last Thursday against Indiana. He had just 3 points in 21 minutes, didn't record a rebound, and did not record a steal. That is very abnormal for Nicholas. He struggled from the field as well. Iowa needs him to be sharp, because he is a key cog in this machine. 

Brady Ellingson (RSSO): He played just a couple of minutes against Indiana on Thursday and it was largely because Moss was playing so well. Usually it's either Ellingson or Moss with the minutes and in that instance, it was Moss. Brady still gives Iowa a good shooter and solid perimeter defender when he's in the game. 

Christian Williams (SO): Williams played a key role in the first win over Indiana, but that was not the story in round 2. He played just 3 minutes and did not score for a Hawkeye team that really struggled on defense. I was wondering why we didn't see more of him.

Cordell Pemsl (FR): Pemsl was Iowa's second best player in the Big Ten Tournament. He scored 14 points and hauled in 11 rebounds off the bench. It was his third straight game scoring in double figures, which has netted him 20+ minutes per game. He's a crafty, tough player that Fran McCaffery has at his disposal off a deep, talented bench.

Dom Uhl (JR): He hasn't scored in 5 straight games and hasn't played double digit minutes either. He's sort of falling out of the rotation.

Ryan Kriener (FR): He hasn't scored in the last four games and also hasn't played double digit minutes in any of them. With Tyler Cook and Cordell Pemsl's strong play, Kriener and Uhl have fallen out of the rotation.

South Dakota Starters

Carlton Hurst (JR): He leads the team in 3-point field goal percentage, making 49% of his shots from beyond the arc. He doesn't dominate a lot of shots and is 5th on the team in scoring average. He brings nice energy to the glass as well, averaging over 5 rebounds per game. That is good for third on the team.

Trey Dickerson (RSJR): The former Hawkeye made the All-Newcomer team in the Summit League this year after averaging over 10 points and 3 assists per game. Dickerson transferred to South Dakota after spending just one season in the Iowa program. 

Matt Mooney (SO): Mooney, an Air Force transfer, is a standout sophomore in the Summit League. He averaged over 18 points per game and over 2 steals per game as well. He finished the year nicely, scoring 24 or more points in each of the final three games. He's a big-time scoring threat that the Hawkeyes must be prepared for.

Trey Burch-Manning (SO): He's a nice role player for the Coyotes, coming in at fourth in scoring this year. He's second in terms of rebounding and plays a nice role for USD. He averages nearly 10 points per game and pulls in around 7 rebounds per game as well. 

Tyler Flack (SR): The lone senior on the roster is also the only one with any experience against this Iowa team. He was on the team back in 2012 when the Coyotes lost to the Hawkeyes in Iowa City. He has scored over 900 points and tallied over 500 rebounds in his Coyote career. He averaged 15 points and 7 rebounds this season while also shooting over 52% from the floor.

Keys to an Iowa Victory

Don't Be Fooled

Fran McCaffery usually has his guys prepared, no matter the opponent. I expect the same to be in play for Wednesday night. He respects every team that comes into Carver Hawkeye Arena and I assume he'll be treating the Coyotes the same way. The Summit League can be a difficult league. The Hawkeyes lost to Summit League member, Omaha earlier in the year, so the Hawkeyes know that there are some good basketball teams that reside in that conference. They have a potent scorer in Mooney and two very capable sidekicks in Flack and Dickerson. Their bench was a big reason for their 7-game winning streak to round out the regular season. A four-pack of players averaged 22 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field in that stretch. This reminds me a lot of the Hawkeyes, who ended the regular season on a four-game win streak. They had key guys leading the way, but the bench made life tough on the opposition. Iowa needs to be ready for this challenge, because USD has the tools to pull off an upset.

Control Mooney

He's one of the best scorers in the Summit League, ranking third in the conference averaging 18.5 points per game for the season. On top of that, he averaged over 21 points per game in conference games this year, so teams really struggled containing him. He can hit the three and get to you off the bounce, so he's a threat to score just about every time down the court. Isaiah Moss likely draws the assignment early on, but given the amount of minutes he has been receiving Mooney will likely see a host of bodies thrown his way - along with some zone defense. I don't think there is really any stopping this guy considering he hasn't scored in single digits since early December, so the Hawkeyes will just be looking to keep him under his average. Work on slowing him down. He'll take a lot of the shots and he'll make his fair share as well.

Stay Out of Foul Trouble

The Coyotes are one of the best teams in the nation at getting to the charity stripe. They average getting there almost 25 times per game and once they are there, they capitalize. They make around 18 free throws per game. The total number of free throws attempted this year tied a 45-year old program record, so that should tell you a lot about how much they get to the line. We saw in the Iowa/Indiana matchup in the regular season that free throws can and will affect the outcome of most games, so this is a big time category to keep an eye on. Iowa, on the other hand, made 495-of-707 free throws during the season, which was good for 70% as a team and was the third most makes in the Big Ten. Iowa needs to get to the line early and often and keep the Coyotes off of it. 

Predictions

This is a game that Iowa should handle fairly easily. Given their wins down the stretch, they were playing and beating top competition in the Big Ten over the last few weeks of the season, but just couldn't put a solid effort together against Indiana. The Hawkeyes are deeper and they're more talented, but it's going to come down to if the Hawkeyes are mentally ready and excited to be playing in the NIT. Often times you'll see larger schools play lackluster ball in the NIT because it's not the big dance. Then smaller schools pounce. Exhibit A was last night in the NIT. The lower seed won in 6 of the 8 games played last night. I don't think that happens here, however. Give me the Hawkeyes to advance and host another home game.

Iowa 82 South Dakota 70


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