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HAWKEYES VS. WESTERN MICHIGAN: PREVIEW, HOW TO WATCH, GAME THREAD

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The Broncos are ... not good

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

We are back!

The Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0) face a Western Michigan Broncos (1-2) bunch later tonight. They’ve gamed the KenPom system because instead of seeing their rating plummet after a 17-point (!) loss to Division II Saginaw Valley State (!!), they still sit at 317. They’re led by second year coach Clayton Bates, who had been an assistant at WMU for 18 of the prior 20 seasons.

Their win was against a school called Hope. They also lost 90-46 to the Spartans.

Lamar Norman (6’3” guard) is their leading scorer at 17.7 points/game and has filled it up from deep (48% 3P). Mack Smith is averaging 9 points on 32% shooting and Marqueese Hastings is at 8.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Three questions

  • What will the defense show? I’m personally pretty averse to criticism about Iowa’s defense around this time of year. Through 4 games, Iowa has done what it needed to do in three of them to make defensive woes moot by getting out to a huge early lead (in part because of really good defense) and maintaining it the rest of the way. The 4th, a relatively tight game against NC Central, saw Iowa go more back and forth with the physical & veteran squad before finding the right defensive five and pulling away. Generally speaking, both scenarios are totally fine - win the tomato cans! - but with a group like Western Michigan who has struggled from the field at 38% in three games, it would be pretty nice to see the Hawks keep them around their season average start-to-finish.
  • Can Keegan Murray keep up his all-Big Ten pace? He currently leads the conference in points/game and is top 5 in rebounds and blocks and nabbed his first co-all conference player of the week award. While its fair to say some portion of his statistical accumulation is a function of a projected first rounder punking low major after low major, it’s still a little jarring to see Iowa go from one 20 PPG scorer to another so seamlessly. The Broncos don’t have anyone who should be able to match up with Murray’s combination of size and skill and another 20-point game feels all but assured. However, it’s still wild to look at his box score and see he is averaging more points than minutes. You just gotta stop and appreciate what’s in Iowa City. He’s probably not long for this world.
  • Does Pat McCaffery bounce back? After missing Friday’s game against Alabama State, Patrick figures to be back in action tonight. He’s the 4th leading scorer, at 12 points/game and flashes high basketball IQ as a ballhandler with 2.3 assists. To balance out the high potential, he does have a little lower floor than some he shares the floor with just 1/8 shooting from deep and 1.3 turnovers/game. The best version of Pat is much of what we’ve seen so far this season alongside three point shooting more in line with last year’s 31% (still lower than you’d want but better than right now). Tonight will offer him a good opportunity to bounce back as few teams can challenge Iowa’s length 3-5.

Broadcast Information

Opponent: Western Michigan Broncos (Kalamazoo, MI // Mid-American Conference - MAC)

Betting Lines: Iowa -28.5 // O/U 149 (DraftKings)

Game time: 7:33 PM CST // Monday, November 22, 2021

Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena // Iowa City, IA (Tickets: $20 Adult, $10 Students/Kids)

TV: BTN

Online/Mobile: Fox Sports Live

Radio: Hawkeye Radio Network

Live Stats: StatBroadcast

Go Hawks, and play nice in the comments!

Bonus ponk: (note, not sure if it will continue in basketball season since it comes so fast and furious but this one is worth mentioning...)

Iowa non-conference games are 13-0 over since the beginning of last year so...let’s keep riding that train!