Since the Iowa Hawkeyes (17-9, 9-6) took down the Northwestern Wildcats (19-7, 10-5) on January’s last day, the teams are a collective 7-2 with the winner of tonight’s game having second place of the conference. At present, Northwestern is just one game back of the Boilermakers in the loss column.
The teams find themselves in this position by very different routes. In Iowa’s last 12 games, just four have been played within single digits. Iowa’s won 9 of them in a total rewrite from where they were halfway through the Indiana game. They’re on track to have the highest scoring offense in the conference for a fifth straight season.
Northwestern’s last 12 has been an inverse of the Hawks’ with eight played within single digits where they’ve gone 6-2 including winning the last five decided by nine or less. They’ve won by stealing, more or less, the Wisconsin model. Tough D to keep games in the 60s and hitting tough shots down the stretch to get the W. They’ve scored over 80 points in just four of their 26 games and won just once (road win at Indiana) when both teams are over that mark.
Advanced stats don’t love them (KenPom currently slots them at 8th in the conference) but games aren’t played on spreadsheets. Behind Boo Buie & Chase Audige, the Wildcats have an offense which can squeak out Ws when it’s tight.
Can Iowa find enough offense away from home?
This has been part & parcel for the Hawkeyes this season: stellar at home, less so on the road. They got to the golden number of 80 just once on the road in eight attempts vs 13 in 15 tries at home. Naturally, it’s a tall order as most of Iowa’s road games come against conference opponents married to slow tempo (KenPom currently ranks the Big Ten 31st out of 32 conferences), but a worthwhile number to target nonetheless.
From deep, eight of Iowa’s 10 worst games have come away from home with just the Seton Hall & Clemson being wins for Iowa where they shoot under 32% from deep. Iowa has just one loss when shooting over that mark (at Ohio State).
For Northwestern, though, nothing is particularly notable about their offense outside of how careful they are with the ball. They’ve got a sub-300 effective field goal percentage so they struggle to generate easy looks at the basket. In some ways, this plays into what Iowa wants to do, which is make opponents make the shots Fran McCaffery wants them to take. If they make them, Iowa will try and get those back on the other end.
Perhaps the best litmus test for this is Chase Audige. He hit seven shots against Iowa in the first contest and damn near every one felt like a highlight. Yet he went just 7/19 from the field. He’s struggled similarly in the six games since, going 23/73 (31.5%) and getting to the line just nine times.
Northwestern’s offense has increasingly leaned on Boo Buie, as he’s scored over 20 points in eight of 12 games, including a clutch 21-point performance against Indiana where they eked it out on the back of his last minute shot-making.
If Iowa can force those tough shots and lock down the boards, I like their chances of stringing enough stops together alongside a torrid offensive stretch to put some distance between the two teams. Chris Collins often seems to get lured into these “shot making” types of games against Iowa and it hasn’t been to their benefit.
But if Iowa doesn’t get enough three-point shooting and finds the game in the 60s in the waning minutes, it will come down to who can make those tough shots and Buie has made a name for himself in hitting those.
About the Wildcats
Season averages: Team / Opponent
PPG: 68.0 / 61.9
RPG: 34.7 / 34.9
APG: 13.2 / 13.6
TOPG: 10.0 / 14.4
FG%: 40.8% / 40.6%
3P%: 31.2% / 33.9%
Chris Collins: 10th season at Northwestern, 10th overall
Record: 153-157 (.494)
PPG: Boo Buie 16.8, Chase Audige 15.1
RPG: Matthew Nicholson 5.7 (2.2 ORPG), Robbie Beran 5.0 (1.3 ORPG)
APG: Buie 4.4, Audige 2.9
FG%: Nicholson 56.5%, Tydus Verhoeven 51.0%
3P%: Julian Roper II 42.1% (missed last seven of last eight games), Audige 33.7%, Beran 33.3%
Most used starters ($) & 2022-23 stats:
G - #0 Boo Buie, Sr, 6’2”, 180 lbs: 16.8 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.5 RPG, 40.1% FG, 28.8% 3P, 88.9% FT, 34.5 MPG
G - #3 Ty Berry, Jr, 6’3”, 185 lbs: 8.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 35.2% FG, 29.5% 3P, 86.7% FT, 26.6 MPG
G - #1 Chase Audige, RS Sr, 6’4”, 200 lbs: 15.1 PPG, 2.9 APG, 2.4 SPG, 38.3% FG, 33.7% 3P, 83.1% FT, 34.0 MPG
F - #31 Robbie Beran, Sr, 6’9”, 215 lbs: 9.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 39.0% FG, 36.1% 3P, 82.1% FT, 29.3 MPG
C - #34 Matthew Nicholson, Jr, 7’0”, 255 lbs: 6.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 56.5% FG, 20.8 MPG
Last 5 games:
W - v Indiana, 64-62 (2/15)
W - v Purdue, 64-58 (2/12)
W - at Ohio State, 69-63 (2/9)
W - at Wisconsin, 54-52 (2/5)
L - v Michigan, 68-51 (2/2)
2023 KenPom: ($)
AdjOffense: 108.6 (104)
AdjDefense: 94.3 (28)
AdjTempo: 65.7 (281)
AdjEfficiency: +9.38 (87)
AdjOffense: 106.6 (101)
AdjDefense: 97.2 (73)
AdjTempo: 67.7 (137)
Bart Torvik: 41
Evan Miyakawa: 53
How to Watch
Date: Sunday, February 19th
Time: 5:37 pm CT
Opponent: Northwestern Wildcats (19-7, 10-5); Big Ten Conference; Evanston, IL
Location: Welsh-Ryan Arena; Evanston, IL
Gambling (by DraftKings): Iowa -1.5 | -125 at Northwestern +105 | O/U 145.5
TV: Big Ten Network (Jeff Levering & Jess Settles)
Radio: Hawkeye Sports Network (Brandon Gaudin & Stephen Bardo)
Streaming: Fox Sports Live