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Last time was too close for comfort

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Well the last time Iowa and Rutgers saw each other, the Hawkeyes squeaked one out at home in matchup that was just a little to close for comfort in a 68-62 performance.

Not much has changed for Rutgers since then. The Scarlet Knights are 1-8 in conference with their lone win coming against Nebraska. They still have the same starting lineup now from when they played Iowa, while we all know the makeup of this Iowa team changes as frequently as the River Room changes the ingredients of its chili.

The Knights are still led by guard Corey Sanders, who’s averaging 12 a game. He had 15 against Wisconsin, and led the Knights in scoring. The other guy Iowa needs to keep an eye on is Nigel Johnson, who put up 13 points and 7 boards against the Badgers. Forward Deshawn Freeman had 19 points and 13 boards against Iowa last time these two danced, so yeah it would be nice if we could draw up a plan to stop Freeman. The youthful Hawkeyes have had some good game experience since then and I’m sure they’ve watched the tape from that game over and over, so I’m optimistic that he doesn’t become a headache this time around.

Really after that, it’s on Iowa to keep pace with a team they’re very capable of beating, with or without Jok.

You might think Iowa is better off without a clearly hobbled Jok, but one must remember he had 18 points and 10 boards against the Scarlet Knights on Jan. 8, and his play down the stretch helped seal the deal for an Iowa team that was down with under 10 minutes left to play in that game.

Since playing Iowa, Rutgers has gone on to lose to Northwestern, Indiana, Maryland and Wisconsin by an average margin of double-digits. They did just take Wisconsin to overtime on Sunday, but the Scarlet Knights blew that one, as they are wont to do.

Rutgers has the No. 277 offense in the nation out of 350 teams, according to KenPom, so that should bode well for this iffy Iowa defense! Their defense is actually damn good, though, clocking in at No. 33. Basically, these two teams play to each others strengths and weaknesses.

It’s going to be interesting to see what lineup Fran trots out to start tonight, especially if Jok can’t go. The lineup of Moss-Baer-Bohannon-Wagner-Cook against Ohio State wasn’t bad at all, and was only supported more when Ryan Kriener and Brady Ellingson came off the bench to impose their will.

It will also be interesting to see if Cordell Pemsl’s ride on the bench to start games is a strategy or injury thing. I’m leaning towards the latter, but we’ll see tonight.

Let’s see if we can’t ride the momentum from beating Ohio State to a win streak in the conference. We’re only three games out of first place!