So... that wasn't fun, right? Depending on your level of, ahem, lubrication on that late Saturday night, the Villanova game feels like something between a hazy memory and a bad dream this morning. And that's probably the wisest move for Iowa, to dispatch this game to the lower recesses of memory and move on.
For about 25 minutes, this looked like a perfect way to cap off the trip down to the Bahamas; Iowa held a 50-35 lead with 16:44 left and was still up double digits with 11 minutes and change left. But three straight 3-pointers began a 21-2 burst for the Wildcats, and while Iowa caught up and forced overtime, the extra frame continued to be unkind to the Hawkeyes as 'Nova kept draining long jumpers.
All told, Villanova hit nine of its last 17 3-pointers after starting 5-21 from behind the arc, and that barrage over the last 16 minutes of gameplay was too much for Iowa (and indeed, basically any team in the nation) to overcome. It's not exactly enjoyable to see Iowa's biggest strength—perimeter defense—get napalmed in clutch time like that, but hey, it was against a really good opponent, in the third straight day of play in hot, humid conditions. It's not that we're saying the defensive collapse doesn't matter, but it's not likely to be as much of a factor in the rest of the regular season as the games are parceled out at a more athlete-friendly pace.
(We are, however, incrementally worried about that Notre Dame game that's looming less than 72 hours after the Nova game finished. Hopefully Iowa's flying back on the airline that offers Pedialyte and leg massages. Is that a thing?)
It's pretty obvious that Roy Devyn Marble is the only constant on offense, and considering his hot-and-cold propensities, that is not really a good thing. But like Iowa's struggle with Xavier, the rest of the team struggled hard to get going on offense, and as a result it leaned on Marble who was more than happy to keep chucking, even after a cold start (this is a good thing).
So if there's a blueprint for beating Iowa this year, it appears to be 1) Be really good at basketball to begin with; 2) make Roy Devyn Marble beat you. He'll get his points, to be sure, but he's enough of a facilitator (his assist rate is better than either Anthony Clemmons' or Mike Gesell's) that ganging up on him is only going to leave easy plays for his teammates (see: the entire UTEP game) and that will be bad for you.
As for how the rest of the Hawkeyes played, it was tough to see Jarrod Uthoff struggle so badly. He's phenomenally skilled, but he's just soft and tentative enough on the perimeter that a skilled, aggressive defender can take him out of his comfort zone without much difficulty.
This is also the first time where the absence of Josh Oglesby was glaringly apparent. It's not that Oglesby's offense was missed—Zach McCabe was 4-for-7 from behind the arc in that role—but Oglesby's length and footwork on the perimeter from the guard spot would have been instrumental in keeping the Wildcats' perimeter game down for the last part of the game.
Last thing: Iowa's defensive rebounding is starting to be a major concern. The Hawkeyes have allowed a 32.1 ORB% on the season, which is basically middle of the road (in virtually every other metric of the game, Iowa is dominant). And that's with one of the tallest teams in the nation playing against a pretty cake schedule. Villanova corralled 16 of 42 rebounds, a 38.1% rate, and it translated into 16 points for the Wildcats—including their last two sets of free throws, which iced the game.
As mentioned earlier, Notre Dame looms, and while it would be nice to see Iowa use the opportunity to respond with a high-profile win—there'll be few respites in January and February, after all, so get used to it now—it's also entirely possible that the Hawkeyes don't have their legs under them yet with the quick turnaround. Is Iowa a legit team, the type that can take on one of the toughest schedules in the nation when it's all said and done and come away with a tourney-worthy resume? It's time to find out.