With just three games remaining in the Big Ten regular season, Iowa travels to Maryland to take on a Terrapin squad that finds itself on a two-game losing streak, choking leads to both Wisconsin and Minnesota in the last week.
Iowa, meanwhile, lost a dumb and bad game to Illinois, but then followed that up with a good and not dumb comeback win over Indiana at Carver on Tuesday night. That was something!
At this point of the season we pretty much know what we’re getting out of these two teams: Iowa is a young squad with a handful of problems now but hopefully a sky-high ceiling (I mean have you seen our incoming recruits?) Meanwhile, Maryland is a team that has looked like the Big Ten’s best at times, but then it has also lost to Penn State. Maryland is a lock for the tourney, but getting back to the Sweet 16 for the Terps doesn’t seem all that likely this year.
Anyway, these two teams have already played, and that outcome wasn’t great, so we’re going to keep this brief and look in to what Iowa needs to do to win this time around.
What happened last time
Melo Trimble had 20 while shooting 5-9 from three. Iowa hasn’t been great at defending the tre all year and giving a guy shooting over 35 percent from range wide-open looks wasn’t the best strategy in retrospect.
This is going to be another close Maryland win because the world isn't sick of kenpom fights just yet. pic.twitter.com/B8Obp0xVcW— Big Ten Geek (@bigtengeek) January 20, 2017
Damonte Dodd was rendered more or less a non-factor since he fouled out again and dropped just 10 points and one rebound. I fully expect Cordell Pemsl and Tyler Cook to goad him in to fouling out again.
The thing I remember most from the 84-76 loss to Maryland on Jan. 19, though, was Jordan Bohannon trying to do too much, along with the fact Iowa couldn’t make shit while shooting 25-70 from the field.
Bohannon turned it over 3 times, while going 3-11 from long range. I recall him taking unnecessary shots and not doing the best job of running the offense. Peter Jok had a suspect night, dropping a team-high 14 while going 4-12 from the field. We know what this team is and isn’t when Jok is cold, and that was a game of isn’t.
What Iowa has to do to win
Going back and watching the highlights of this game gives me greater hope than it should. Christian Williams had just 2 minutes of playing time. That’s not going to happen again! Williams has been absolutely instrumental on the defensive end, and I’m really looking forward to seeing his role grow within this team. Six weeks ago I think we all thought Williams was a lock to transfer next year (he still could) but now he’s becoming an instrumental piece of this team as his role embiggens.
I actually watched the entirety of Maryland’s last two games, too, for some reason. I think Iowa would be smart to utilize the trap Minnesota employed with Reggie Lynch and Amir Coffey to keep Trimble and Cowan off their game. It didn’t hurt that Minnesota shot 50 percent from the field, with Akeem Springs going 4-7 from range, either.
Maryland was actually up 6 at half to Wisconsin before taking an 11-point loss on the chin to the Badgers. That game was weird, since Trimble had over 30 percent of his teams points with 27, while Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ combined for 41 of Wisconsin’s 70. If this Iowa-Maryland Matchup Part Deux turns in to a three-man game I don’t like the odds for Iowa.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to a hard-fought battle, with these Iowa youngsters probably going to their hostile environment yet. A win would be great, but a learning experience is just as important with no real shot at making the tournament on the line. I envision a lot of good things with even more bad things, and a Fran McCaffery-Mark Turgeon shouting match with dumb Twitter takes afterward. I think the Hawkeyes have a great chance, but I just don’t see Maryland losing three in a row and backing in to the end of the season in this fashion.
Prediction: Maryland 81, Iowa 75.