clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:


Can Iowa shake out of their late season funk and put together a deep tournament run? It all starts with this game.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

#7 Iowa (21-10) vs. #10 Temple (21-11)

Time: 2:10 p.m. CT

Location: Barclays Center (Brooklyn, New York)

Tickets: StubHub

TV/Streaming: truTV/NCAA March Madness Live

Line: Iowa -7

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 100 shooting rating means that their eFG% has been equal to the national average during Big Ten play, while Temple's 108 means they have been 8% better at contesting opponent shots in conference play.

On this side of the ball, we have an Iowa offense that is averaging 1.15 opponent-adjusted points per possession (PPP) this season, against a Temple defense that is allowing 0.98. This is clearly a strength vs. strength battle.

Iowa's offense has undergone a complete transformation from the beginning of the season. Where they started by relying heavily on their shooting and their ability to hold onto the ball, their ability to shoot has dissipated over the last few months and they are now back to the old Fran McCaffery ways of getting offensive rebounds and getting to the free throw line. We know this can be a successful strategy (Iowa has done well with it in past years), but being able to shoot the ball at a rate that is quite a bit above average is always the most lethal weapon an offense can have. So if Iowa could find that stroke for the tournament that would be a most welcome sight. Otherwise, their offensive rebounding advantage may be the key to this side of the ball, considering Temple doesn't get called for a lot of fouls.

Of course, a huge part of Temple's success this season has been that they play very solid defense. Most importantly, they contest shots and they don't foul. They aren't extremely tall -- which probably helps explain their so-so defensive rebounding -- and they don't gamble for steals very often, but they do stay in front of their man and force them to take difficult shots. And, again, they don't bail their opponent out by fouling.

If Iowa loses this game, this is probably where it happens. Temple is going to take the air out of the ball on offense, and they play a style of man-to-man defense that makes you really work for an open shot. If they are successful in really condensing how many possessions this game has, that will mean Iowa will have less margin for error on offense. My hope is that the Hawkeyes can find enough transition opportunities (off turnovers, Temple makes and misses, etc.) and capitalize on them, so that would limit the potential breakdown of Iowa's half-court offense. I'm not sure how confident I am in them finding enough of those opportunities, though.

Advantage: Push

When Temple Has the Ball


This is where Iowa's biggest advantage lies. Temple has a solid defense, but their offense is ranked 153rd in the country, according to Kenpom, and they are scoring just 1.05 opponent-adjusted PPP this season. Iowa's defense, meanwhile, is giving up an average of 0.96.

Really, the only thing Temple excels at on offense is not turning the ball over. The Owls hold the ball for an average of 18.7 seconds, which is 314th in the country. (Division I average is 17.3.) That means they run their half-court offense on just about every possession, and they run it for quite some time, making cuts and passes until they get a good look at the basket. Now, while that works for teams like Wisconsin, that hasn't exactly always been successful for this Temple this year. Because, while they don't hurt themselves with stupid turnovers, they do harm themselves by being unable to put the ball in the basket, grab their misses, or earn their way to the free throw line.

However, before we get too excited that Temple is horrible on offense and this should be an easy Iowa win, the Owls have some talent. Despite only shooting a meh 34% on the year from downtown, this Temple squad shoots a ton of threes. They aren't quite at Indiana levels in terms of volume, but they will likely take quite a few more than Iowa will. And, again, even though they are shooting just 34% on the season, that number was at 36% in conference play. Additionally, their top three scorers (all of whom are scoring at least 10 points per game this season) are shooting at least 37% from long range. The leading trio of DeCosey, Enechionyia, and Coleman made an average of 6-7 threes per game this year in conference play, while attempting 14-15. We all know that Iowa's defense has seen opponents shoot a lot of threes against them this season. They haven't always made them, but when they do, it can be devastating; especially, when Iowa's offense is sputtering.

Essentially, this side of the ball probably boils down to this: Iowa holds the advantage on the surface, but that advantage could go out the window if the three-pointers are falling for the Owls.

Advantage: Iowa

Style of Play

As I have already mentioned, Temple prefers a slower game than Iowa does. The Owls are averaging 67 possessions per game this season, but that number was closer to 66 in conference play. Iowa, meanwhile, is at 70 for the season, but was at 68 in Big Ten games. The main difference is on offense, where Iowa is #53 in the country and #1 in the Big Ten in terms of time of possession on offense. Their 16 second norm is a lot faster than Temple's almost 19 seconds.


As for shooting styles, Temple's offense and Iowa's defense are very similar in terms of shot selection. The Owls shoot a bunch of threes, while Iowa's opponents attempt a bunch of threes. I wouldn't expect that to change much.

On the other end of the floor, Temple's defense has really limited three-point attempts this season, and Iowa has moved away from those as the season has gone on. That has been an issue because Iowa has been a below average team when it comes to making their twos for most of the year, and because if Temple is connecting from downtown and Iowa is struggling from inside the arc, the whole 3 > 2 could cost the Hawkeyes this game.


As for how well each team shoots it, we again see that Iowa has struggled from inside the arc. And Temple's defense has been great at contesting both inside and outside the three-point line.

On the other end, Temple has been horrific from two-point range this season, but they have been pretty good from three-point range in conference play. Iowa's defense was not great at contesting twos against Big Ten teams, but they were largely able to limit damage from three-point range. Let's hope that continues to be the case today.


Finally, looking at points, we see that Iowa's offense relies on threes and free throws, as their two-point shooting has been lacking for a while now. Temple's defense, of course, rarely gives up either of those, and has forced their foes to score from inside the three-point line.

On offense, Temple is extremely dependent on the long ball falling for them. Iowa has been able to limit that damage a bit this season, but the Owls will no doubt probably see a lot of opportunity in this one.

Players to Watch


Note: A quick reminder on how this chart works. The horizontal axis represents a player's usage rage, while the vertical axis represents a player's offensive rating. The circle size represents playing time (bigger means more time on the court). This chart should tell us how involved in the offense the player is, how efficient they are in doing so, and in how many minutes per game do they accomplish all of this.

Temple is a team that doesn't have a deep bench, and is highly reliant upon their (mostly) upper class starters. Out of all of them, Quenton DeCosey is the big name on this Temple offense. The 6'5" senior wing plays 34 minutes per game and can slash to the rim, shoot from deep, and create shots for his teammates. And that's just on offense. On the other end of the ball, his length and athleticism allow him to grab rebounds and keep his man in front of him. He and Peter Jok guarding each other should be a pretty entertaining aspect of this game.

Moving back to offense, DeCosey is scoring almost 16 points per night on the season, and he does it in a variety of ways. About a third of his shots come from downtown, where he is connecting on 37% of his tries. But he's more than just a shooter. He also has the ability, while attacking off the dribble, to finish in traffic, draw fouls or find an open man near the rim or out beyond the arc. He's essentially a point forward at times, and when Temple's real point guard does leave the court for a few minutes every game, DeCosey actually does seem to move to the one spot. The only real issue with his game is that he can sometimes get jump shot-happy, and his occasional penchant for long twos is the reason his eFG% sits at 46% on the year. He's still dangerous, though, and he is more than capable of putting this Temple offense on his back.

Next is the sophomore Obi Enechionyia, who is a 6'8" forward and the guy who is most likely to be facing off with Jarrod Uthoff for most of the game. Similar to Uthoff, Enechinonyia is a very long player who can play away from the rim. Unlike Uthoff, his inside game is less refined, but that hasn't mattered much because he is such a good shooter away from the basket. He is on the court for 25 minutes per game and splits his field goal attempts about 50/50 between twos and threes, making 46% of the former and 39% of the latter, while scoring 11 points for the Owls. But it's his three-point shooting that is his greatest weapon. Jarrod Uthoff will need to keep his long arms in Enechionyia's face all game or it could be a frustrating afternoon.

Temple's third and final threat to knock down a bunch of threes is senior shooting guard Devin Coleman. Coleman is a guy out of Philadelphia that I'm fairly sure Fran offered and was really high on early in the recruiting process five years ago. I believe Fran cooled on him for whatever reason, though, and eventually pulled his scholarship offer. Coleman would eventually commit to Clemson, though, and the rest is history. Regardless of what happened five years ago in recruiting, Coleman didn't attend Iowa, and he's now found his way back home to Temple, where he's having a pretty good season, scoring 9 points a night (10 in conference play) in 25 minutes on the hardwood. Like Enechionyia, Coleman is more of a jump shooter than anything on offense. Most of his two-pointers this season have been jumpers, and 57% of his total field goals have come from long range. His three-point heavy strategy is a smart one, considering he's making 40% of his tries from out there this year and shooting only 33% from closer in. Coleman and Enechionyia tend to be the beneficiaries of open looks on the wing when guys like DeCosey or point guard Josh Brown attack the middle of the defense.

Rounding out the starting lineup, we have 6'8" 240 lb. center, Jaylen Bond, and 6'3" 185 lb. point guard, Josh Brown. Both are very experienced players, as Bond (29 minutes per game) is a senior and Brown (36 minutes per game) is a junior. Bond is a true post player, who gets his 10 points per game in the paint and off of putbacks. He is, by far, the best rebounder on this Temple team, and is currently 107th in the country in offensive rebounding and 256th on the defensive end. Brown, meanwhile, rarely leaves the court and is scoring 8 points every game for the Owls while doing so. He doesn't take quite as many shots per game as aforementioned players, but he's responsible for running the offense and facilitating the open looks that the others are getting. He's also good for a steal per game.

Once you get to the Temple bench, things start to thin out. Daniel Dingle's 21 minutes per game are the most off the bench, and the only one of the reserves who plays more than 12. Dingle is 6'7" 235 lb. and normally plays the four or five spots. However, his versatility allows him to also play the three position when Fran Dunphy decides to go with a bigger lineup. He takes about 42% of his field goal attempts from three-point range, but he's only making 24% of them on the season and his 39% from two-point range isn't any better. Despite not being much of an offensive threat, Dingle appears to be Dunphy's favorite option to spell Enechionyia and Bond when they need a break.

After Dingle, Levan Shawn Alston and Mark Williams are really the only others to receive playing time. Trey Lowe used to be another guy who got minutes off the bench, but a car accident has seemingly ended his season early. Now, Alston is a freshman who will usually come in to give Coleman a breather for a few minutes per game, while Williams -- almost identical in size and girth to Jaylen Bond -- is a junior who will come in to give Enechionyia one at the power forward position when Dingle isn't at the four and the head coach wants to go with a heftier lineup. Alston doesn't do much of anything, while Williams is semi-notable because he has actually shot the ball pretty well in the post during his limited time on the court this season.

What Kenpom Thinks

Kenpom Rankings: Iowa #20, Temple #90

Projected Outcome: Iowa 73 (77%), Temple 66 (23%)

Projected Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.09, Temple 0.99

Projected Possessions: 67

Overall, I want to say that Iowa should have the advantage in this game, but their recent string of performances over the past month and a half has been extremely concerning. The one big advantage that the Hawkeyes seem to have on paper is that Temple's offense is not very good. However, when you break it down, they have some talented individual players who could potentially have the opportunity for big games against the Hawkeyes.

The big concerns for this game are the same concerns we have had since around the beginning of February. That is, a combination of clunky half-court offense from Iowa and a nice outside shooting day from the other team could very well doom the Hawkeyes in this game. Temple takes a lot of threes on offense and plays good, solid defense, and that's a scary match up for this Iowa team right now. Add to that the fact that their solid defense has another 6'8" athletic forward to match up with Jarrod Uthoff and a 6'5" athletic wing to cover Peter Jok, and you can see why the upset alarm could be ringing today.

I'm not trying to sound negative, but the more I look at this Temple team, the more nervous I get about this game. Of course, I was also nervous about Iowa going into last year's game against a Davidson team that could shoot the lights out and the Hawks were just fine. I definitely think Iowa can win this game, but I don't expect it to be easy at all.