Fran McCaffery’s Crew of Youngsters and Peter Jok take on Notre Dame in South Bend tonight as part of the ACC-B1G Challenge. It’s the second time in a week Iowa has played an ACC team after the Hawkeyes got slobberknocked by Virginia on Black Friday.
This is also the third time in four years where Iowa and Notre Dame have taken the same court. In 2013, Iowa beat Notre Dame 98-93 in Iowa City. Last year, the Irish took down Iowa 68-62 at the Advocare Invitational in Orlando.
We have already previewed this matchup a little bit for y’all in our Q&A with One Foot Down, but here’s what else to look for in this here hoopyball contest:
Get to know the Domers
Notre Dame is currently 6-0, with legitimate wins over Colorado and jNW. The Domers received 85 votes in the most recent AP poll, basically qualifying for a No. 27 ranking if that’s how you care to look at things.
Opposite of Iowa’s current makeup, Notre Dame has four upperclassmen who see significant minutes, with seniors Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem along with juniors Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell averaging over 27 minutes a game. Another upperclassmen rounds out the starting five, with junior Martinas Geben playing about 15 minutes a game. Those guys are battle-tested, having played on Notre Dame squads that made it to back-to-back Elite Eight appearances, so this team is absolutely no slouch.
The Brawlin’ Micks are wildly disciplined, another far cry from this Iowa team. Notre Dame is No. 1 in the nation in assist/TO ratio, and are also No. 1 in TO committed per game for teams that have played six games. Notre Dame has committed just 45 turnovers, while Iowa has coughed it up a whopping 101 times, good for 302nd in the nation! Wow. Just wow.
One thing Iowa does have going for it in this matchup, however, is size. Iowa has a size advantage here, something it wasn’t able to exploit against Memphis.
Iowa can win if …
It plays defense. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s that simple. Iowa has shown that it can easily be outmatched under the rim and on the perimeter, but those sort of things won’t hurt as much if the Hawkeyes are able to hold on to the dang ball and not turn it over at inopportune times. Or any other time, for that matter. Fran & Co. will need to hold on to the ball to keep this one close.
The Hawkeyes will also have a chance if Peter Jok continues to play like Peter Jok. Notre Dame is allowing 35 percent of its opponents three-point looks to go in, and it certainly hasn’t seen a shooter like Jok yet.
Look for Notre Dame to …
Play sound basketball while forcing Iowa to make mistakes. The Irish are going to get all up in Iowa’s passing lanes and try cause the turnovers it knows the Hawkeyes are susceptible to make.
Also look for the Domers to spread it around. They have four legitimate scoring threats, and Iowa doesn’t do well against multiple scorers, a la Seton Hall.
I just don’t see Iowa being able to hold on to this one. Right now, the Irish are 12 1⁄2- point favorites and that sounds about right. (DEGENERATIVE SIDEBAR: ND opened as 10-point favorites, and a 2.5-point swing overnight is a little eyebrow-raising. Do what you will with that information.) I saw too many problems in Iowa’s games against Virginia and Memphis to give me any reason to think Iowa can secure a resume-padding win here, and it would take some major blunders by a veteran Notre Dame squad to blow this one.
I envision a double-digit loss from Iowa here, and a lot of yelling at the TV over stupid mistakes. We still see flashes of brilliance and some COOK JAMS, but inept guard play and sloppy passing shoots Iowa in the foot early and often.
How to watch
Time: 8 PM God’s Time
Online: Watch ESPN
Radio: Hawkeye Radio Network