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Big Ten Tournament: Iowa/Ohio State preview & stats

The Hawkeyes look to bounce back after a thud of a regular season finale

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

The 5-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes (19-12, 11-9) take on a maybe-not-struggling 13-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes (14-18, 6-15) squad who have won three of their last four after a nine-game losing streak. Yikes! Last night they beat the Wisconsin Badgers-whose-presence-on-the-bubble-tells-you-the-state-of-college-basketball 65-57 in a game they led by 27 points early in the second half. Wisconsin did their best Iowa impression* by scoring 37 points over the final 15 minutes to make Ohio State sweat.

(Iowa scored 36 points in the final 7 minutes against Michigan State in that comeback)

Anyways, the last time these two met, Iowa won 92-75 in a game which didn’t seem that close as Connor McCaffery notched his magnum opus of seven points, 13 assists, six rebounds and zero turnovers. Tony Perkins & Kris Murray each notched 20+ points while everyone else who played more than 4 minutes had 9 or more points.

Last night for the Buckeyes, they got excellent guardplay from Bruce Thornton (15 points)& Sean McNeil (17 points) with Justice Sueing & Brice Sensabaugh playing tough minutes. Zedd Key played against Iowa but his shoulder injury proved too much and he’s been shut down for Felix Okpara.

Ultimately for the Buckeyes, it’ll come down to if they can hit enough tough shots without turning it over in bunches. It was a low possession game and 16 turnovers almost gave it away to Bucky alongside spotty free throw shooting. Shots from the field? They were money. 23/44 & 6/13 from deep. They’ll take a lot of midrange shots which are spots on the floor Iowa will give them. If they can hit them at the clip they did in Columbus against the Hawks and carry over last night’s play into today, they might just do the deed.

What Iowa team shows up tomorrow?

I am under no auspices that the Hawkeyes all of a sudden become defensive mavens but it is worth noting that Iowa played pretty good defense the last time these two met, especially before garbage time. Iowa had two huge runs (18-2, 12-2) which wasn’t matched until Ohio State had a 12-2 run of their own with five minutes left. Among those solid defensive numbers were 14 forced turnovers (21.2%) & 19 defensive rebounds (90.5%). The rebounding was a decided step up from the prior matchup.

Worth noting, both teams have shot the leather off the ball in both matchups (Ohio State, 57% FG, 52% 3P; Iowa: 51% FG, 41% 3P). Iowa would be wise not to fall too in love with the three ball as 41% of their attempts have come from deep. No volume shooter for Iowa is currently above 36% with Patrick McCaffery leading the pack at 35.1% after his heater on Sunday.

That being said! If Iowa does get going from deep, it provides a boon to an offense which has some really nice stylistic elements. They rebound the second highest percentage of their misses in conference play. They limit turnovers and get to the line. They turn teams over.

They just let opponents make too many shots so too often they get into three-point contests without much going from deep. Such is life as a flawed but fun team who doesn’t need the conference tournament to get into the NCAA Tournament. Through that lens, Bracket Matrix has Iowa as the highest 8 seed and a win or two could move them into the 7/10 game.

About the Buckeyes

Season averages: Team / Opponent

PPG: 73.1 / 69.4
RPG: 36.5 / 33.0
APG: 11.5 / 12.5
TOPG: 10.9 / 10.7
FG%: 46.1% / 43.1%
3P%: 35.8% / 32.7%


Chris Holtmann: 6th season at Ohio State, 12th overall
Record: 121-74 (.621) at Ohio State, 235-159 (.596) overall

Statistical Leaders:

PPG: Brice Sensabaugh 16.5, Justice Sueing 12.0
RPG: Sueing 5.4 (1.9), Sensabaugh 5.2 (1.3 ORPG)
APG: Isaac Likekele 2.7, Bruce Thornton 2.4
FG%: Felix Okpara 59.8%, Eugene Brown 51.7% (10.2 MPG)
3P%: Sensabaugh 41.5%, Thornton 38.4%

Most likely starters ($) & 2022-23 stats:

Ahead of Ohio State’s last game against Iowa, Holtmann switched to a freshmen-heavy lineup with Sean McNeil & Isaac Likekely coming off the bench

G - #2 Bruce Thornton, Fr, 6’2”, 215 lbs: 10.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.4 APG, 45% FG, 38% 3P, 30.0 MPG
G - #1 Roddy Gayle, Fr, 6’4”, 205 lbs: 3.7 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 40% FG, 32% 3P, 15.1 MPG
F - #14 Justice Sueing, R Sr, 6’6”, 210 lbs: 12.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 43% FG, 23% 3P, 29.7 MPG
F - #10 Brice Sensabaugh, Fr, 6’6”, 235 lbs: 16.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 48% FG, 42% 3P, 24.3 MPG
C - #34 Felix Okpara, Fr, 6’11”, 220 lbs: 3.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 60% FG, 13.9 MPG

Last 5 games:

W - v Wisconsin, 65-57 (BTT) (3/8)
L - at Michigan State, 84-78 (3/4)
W - v Maryland, 73-62 (3/1)
W - v Illinois, 72-60 (2/26)
L - at Penn State, 75-71 (2/23)

2023 KenPom: ($)
AdjEfficiency: +13.29 (55)
AdjOffense: 115.9 (21)
AdjDefense: 102.6 (113)
AdjTempo: 66.5 (227)


AdjEfficiency: +16.24 (31)
AdjOffense: 115.5 (13)
AdjDefense: 99.3 (111)
AdjTempo: 65.0 (289)

NET: 63

Bart Torvik: 59
Since 1/1: 81

Evan Miyakawa: 71