Iowa (8-3) vs. Tennessee Tech (8-4)
Time: 7:30 p.m. CT
Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
Tickets: University of Iowa
Line: Iowa -19.5
Let's be honest, Iowa faces Tennessee Tech tonight and it shouldn't be a close game. Therefore, what follows is a somewhat abbreviated version of the usual Pre-Game Franalysis because there really isn't a whole lot to go over with Tennessee Tech.*
*Of course, this could look really stupid if Iowa somehow loses this game.
When Iowa has the Ball
Note: All numbers in this piece come from Kenpom or Sports Reference. Additionally, ratings in the four factors charts are scaled so that 100 = average. Thus, above 100 is above average, while below 100 is below average. For example, Iowa's 111 shooting rating means that their eFG% has been 11% better than the national average this year, while TTU's 99 means they have been 1% worse at contesting opponent shots this season.
Iowa has the advantage in shooting, turnovers, and offensive rebounding on this end of the court. And that is before we take into account Tennessee Tech playing the 305th toughest schedule in the country thus far in the season. Basically, Iowa's offense should have no troubles against Tennessee Tech except when it comes to getting to the free throw line, but we know that's not an area of emphasis for the Hawkeyes this season.
When Tennessee Tech has the Ball
When we get to this side of the ball, we see that Tennessee Tech doesn't do a whole lot well outside of getting to the free throw line. And they are very dependent on free throws because they can't shoot the ball well. I repeat, they cannot shoot the ball well at all. The Golden Eagles attempt more three-point shots than Iowa, but they are connecting at a much lower rate (33%) on the year. And they aren't making their two-point shots,either. Similar to Drake, Tennessee Tech's shooting problems seem to stem from getting their shots blocked on a regular basis. The Golden Eagles are the 308th worst team in the country when it comes to not getting their shots blocked this season. Thus, Jarrod Uthoff and Nicholas Baer may be holding another block party tonight.
Style of Play
The Golden Eagles and the Hawkeyes have similar tempos, as they both average about 71 possessions per game. The Golden Eagles are slightly quicker, but that's due to opposing offenses holding the ball for fewer seconds per possession. Iowa is quick to shoot on offense (74th in the country), but their opponents are holding it for quite a while (272nd in the nation). Whether that's due to playing slow teams or Iowa playing good defense, I'm not totally sure.
If we look at the shot distribution for each team, both like to shoot from long range. Tennessee Tech a bit more, though.
That being said, Iowa is the superior shooting team and is much better at contesting shots this season.
As for scoring, Tennessee Tech relies heavily on points from free throws and also gets a lot of points from three-pointers because they take so many. As for Iowa, they rely heavily on production from beyond the arc.
Players to Watch
Point guard Torrance Rowe is the most important player for this Tennessee Tech team. He's playing 34 minutes per game, scoring almost 17 points each time, and favors the three-point shot a little more than the two-point shot. He's an average shooter from anywhere on the floor, and he gets a decent amount of his value from the charity stripe. He's also the team's best assist man and 131st in the nation, according to Kenpom. Overall, he makes the offense run. You can watch him fill it up against Miami of Ohio here.
Next is the 6'9" power forward/center, Ryan Martin. He's giving the Golden Eagles almost 14 points per game and doing so mainly from two-point range and at the free throw line. He will shoot the occasional three, but he's not much of a threat from out there. Instead, his game is to score in the paint and by creating second chance opportunities from offensive rebounds. He and starting center, Anthony Morse, are Tennessee Tech's big rebounding and foul-drawing threats. Morse is also a very good shot blocker, but has a fouling problem that can limit his minutes.
After Rowe and Martin, Tennessee Tech's efficiency drops quite a bit. Shooting guard, Hakeem Rogers, is the team's best three-point shooter, as he takes about 60% of his attempts from out there and is making 36% of them on the year. He takes the most shots out of anyone for the Golden Eagles when he's on the court (just slightly more than Rowe) and is scoring almost 10 points per game this year. However, his two-point shooting has been so bad this year that his offensive rating is actually below average, despite being pretty good from outside.
The last starter is Shirmane Thomas, who plays the small forward position for about 20 minutes per game and is awful on offense. He is scoring 4 points per contest, but it's not necessarily because he doesn't try and score, he's just a bad shooter. He doesn't attempt (or make) many threes, and he's shooting just 12-33 (36.4%) from two-point range this season. His main contribution -- and why I'm guessing he's in the starting lineup, despite a terrible offensive rating -- comes on the defensive end where he is currently 189th in the country at stealing the ball from the opponent this season.
Finally, Aleksa Jugovic (my favorite player by default because he is from the Balkans) comes off the bench and plays the small forward (for Thomas) and shooting guard (for Rogers) positions for 28 minutes per night. He averages 10 points per game, but he's not the greatest shooter in the world. A little more than 3 of every 5 attempts he takes are from three-point range, but he's only connecting on 31.5% from outside on the season. And his 37.5% from two-point range isn't any better. He can contribute to the scoreboard, but it takes more shots for him to do so than Tennessee Tech fans would probably like it to.
The takeaway from this section? If Iowa can handle Torrance Rowe and Ryan Martin, they should win this game pretty handily.
What Kenpom Thinks
Kenpom Rankings: Iowa #18, Tennessee Tech #232
Projected Outcome: Iowa 87 (96%), Tennessee Tech 66 (4%)
Projected Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.23, Tennessee Tech 0.93
Projected Possessions: 71