After Iowa’s horrific loss to the Fighting Illini this past weekend, it’s probably safe to assume that a lot of people are going to start checking out on what seems to be a lost season. The Hawks are in the midst of a three-game skid that has consisted of one game that they should have won and two atrocious losses to middling-to-bad teams. It doesn’t look like they’ll make the NIT and it’s probably safe to wonder if they’ll finish with a winning record if they don’t turn things around FAST.
Well, look at this! An Indiana team that has been maybe even worse than the Hawkeyes of late is coming to Carver-Hawkeye Arena! The Hoosiers have dropped six of their last seven games with their lone win being a 3OT win against lowly Penn State in Bloomington of all places. To find their last good win, you’d have to go all the way back to... The Big Ten/ACC Challenge when they beat then ranked #3 UNC. That was almost three months ago. That isn’t good.
Could this be the medicine that Iowa needs to get back in the win column? Let’s discuss the Hoosiers.
Getting to know Indiana
Alright, I’m going to admit that I was pretty unfair to the Hoosiers in that last paragraph because it doesn’t give the whole picture. Indiana has been ravaged by injuries this season - losing OG Anunoby for the season has by far been the most devastating, as the sophomore is viewed as their best NBA talent. Since he went down, the Hoosiers are 2-6. Indiana’s also had to do without James Blackmon Jr. and Juwan Morgan this season which hasn’t made their path any easier.
Out of the players that are expected to play against Iowa, Blackmon Jr. and Thomas Bryant are the most fearsome of the bunch. Blackmon Jr. leads the Hoosiers in scoring at 17 ppg and shoots a team best 42% from 3-point range and will be a player that Iowa will have to keep in check if they’re going to have any shot at winning. Bryant has had more modest numbers at just over 13 ppg and 7 rpg, but he’s the player I’d be most worried about as an Iowa fan. He can probably be baited into foul trouble if the Hawks feed their bigs in the post, but I also don’t know if the Hawks have anyone who can stop him from having his way on the offensive end. Bryant is a big dude at 6-10, 255 lbs, and Iowa has struggled against bigger post players this season.
What Iowa has to do to win
I’m just going to get this out of the way quickly because I feel like it’s the same storyline from every game this season - Iowa needs to show up on defense. Kenpom LOVES Indiana on offense and has their AdjO at 29th in the country and I’m sure you can imagine how it feels about the Hawkeyes on defense. Iowa seemed to play better defense against Illinnoying, but you could also chalk that up to the Illini being a horrid basketball team. If Iowa can consistently play tight defense against Indiana, they could probably force them into a cold shooting night.
Conversely, we all know that Iowa’s offense has the potential to pop off on any given night (even if we haven’t seen it for a bit), and Indiana isn’t very good on the defensive end, as they’re ranked 104th by Kenpom is AdjD. Thomas Bryant can be a liability at times on the defensive end, as you’d expect from someone who has a propensity to get in foul trouble. Iowa’s offense has been out of sorts during the current skid and it just so happens that the players who are having the coldest shooting nights are the ones who are chucking up the most shots in the past couple games (Jok/JoBo went a combined 2 of 19 against MSU and Baer went 3 of 10 against Illinois).
Jok and Bohannon will especially need to be efficient with their shots if the Hawkeyes are going to have a shot at beating a high scoring team like the Hoosiers, while the team will also need a couple members of the bench mob to contribute. I’m just not sure this will all come together, as it seems like a lot of improvement to ask for after the showing against Illinois.
Prediction: Indiana 72, Iowa 61.