I barely had time to celebrate beating a top-25 team before I was back to screaming at my TV.
Part of me knows that these Iowa Hawkeyes are not a tournament team this year, but the other half of me keeps thinking that after beating Purdue, there’s no reason why this team couldn’t compete at that level. But offense wins games... defense wins championships, and this team plays some atrocious defense with definite regularity.
Looking back at the games played thus far, Iowa’s real issue has been allowing far too many open looks at three-pointers. In Iowa’s longest stretch of wins (from Stetson to Delaware State), they held teams at or under 33% accuracy from deep in all of those games. Outside of those games, Iowa has allowed teams to ring up threes at a clip of 36% or more. That’s right, in every Iowa loss they have allowed 36% or better three point shooting, including 46% at Northwestern, which launched 24 bombs against the Hawks. You simply cannot allow 33 points in 24 possessions in any game and expect to win, or even keep it close.
That brings us to Maryland. Iowa hosts the Terps on Thursday night, and the turtles do like to shoot, averaging about 22 three-point attempts per game and connecting 40% of the time. This does not bode well for Iowa. And did I mention that Melo Trimble is still playing? I’m not really sure anybody on Iowa except for Baer has shown the ability to stress the junior guard. But there’s hope.
H.A.W.K.E.Y.E.S. sees a path to a victory over Maryland. And that would be a wonderful thing to upend two top-25 teams in as many weeks. The key is to make Maryland go inside for their scoring. The Terps have not had to move the ball around too much to get their points and if Iowa can limit uncontested threes and force Maryland to move the ball into the paint, there’s a chance. On the other side of the court, Iowa can exploit Maryland a bit with some inside-outside scheming. Maryland is not known for their active hands, not forcing too many steals. If Iowa can move the ball into the paint to draw defenders inside, it can free Peter Jok up to take some open shots. And I have to believe Jok wants to make up for his four-point outing against the Wildcats. So what’s the verdict? Well, The Computer in Mom’s Basement says to put Maryland on upset alert, predicting an Iowa win (yes, you read that right) 64-60. I really want to believe that. But I’m just not so optimistic.