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FRANALYSIS: IOWA UTILIZES SIZE, DOMINATES MICHIGAN

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Iowa made it a point to get the ball inside on Thursday night, and their size proved to be too much for Michigan to handle.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After a three-game losing skid, it was understandable to be worried about going on the road against a Michigan team that had been playing better basketball as of late. I mean, they had won 3 of their last 5 games and even in their losses they had taken both Wisconsin and Michigan State to overtime. They also had freshmen like Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman stepping up and giving them double-digit points on offense -- much needed with the losses of Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr -- so there were definitely some things to worry about coming into this game.

However, despite what Vegas and Kenpom projected, this one wasn't very competitive in the end. The first 13 minutes of game time was close, as Michigan held a 21-19 lead, but then Iowa went on a 12-0 run to end the half and the Hawkeyes never looked back after that.

quarters

Four Factors in Review

1st half

First Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.22, Michigan 0.83

First Half Possessions: 25

2nd half

Second Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.54, Michigan 1.24

Second Half Possessions: 27

4 factors

Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.37, Michigan 1.03

Possessions: 53

Shooting

Shot Analytics didn't update their website until after I was able to write this post, so I apologize for not having any shot charts for you to visually look at. However, I do have what I captured from the box score:

FG Attempts 2pt Near Rim 2pt Jumper 3Pt FG
Iowa 47.1% 31.4% 21.6%
Michigan 25.5% 23.4% 51.1%

Iowa stuck to their strength in this one, and they got the ball to the rim early and often. The Hawkeyes had a huge size advantage over the Wolverines and it was demonstrably noticeable in the shooting and rebounding categories. Iowa took almost half of their shots from near the rim and converted on 87.5% of their attempts from up close. Additionally, Iowa's shooting was also on from everywhere else on the court, as they made 43.8% of their long twos and 36.4% of their threes. It didn't matter if Beilein had his team go man-to-man or if he threw a variation of a zone at Iowa, the Hawkeyes were able to get to the rim at will and finish all night long, as they scored 42 of their 72 points near the rim.

As for the Wolverines, their shooting was pretty streaky throughout the night. They started the game hot on offense, but that last 10 minutes of the first half where they only scored 5 points killed them. The Wolverines depend heavily on the three ball and they went through a drought in the middle of the game that lasted approximately 21 minutes of game time, in which they shot 1-10 from long range. Needless to say, that hurt them, and Iowa outscored them 40-21 during that 21 minute stretch. Aubrey Dawkins helped the final stat line look better in the second half, but shooting only 29.2% from downtown will only cut it if this Michigan team is playing lockdown defense. And Michigan was not playing lockdown defense on Iowa in this one.

Advantage: Iowa

Turnovers

This was an extremely low-possession game. As a matter of fact, this was the lowest possession game of the year for Iowa, beating out the 54 possession game at Wisconsin a few weeks back. So with such a low total, it's really hard to say that turnovers didn't matter in this game, but they really didn't. Iowa was simply shooting the ball too well. The Hawkeyes won the turnover and points off of turnovers battle before halftime, but Michigan evened that out after halftime.

Essentially, both teams ended up with a low number of turnovers, and this category was pretty much a non-factor in this game.

Advantage: Push

Offensive Rebounding

After shooting, this was the next most important factor for this game. It was also the other area in which Iowa's size advantage was particularly noticeable. Not only did the Hawkeyes shoot well from the field, but they also grabbed almost half their misses on the night and scored 13 second chance points on 9 offensive rebounds. The second half was especially pretty for the Hawkeyes, as they shot 76% from the floor and also reeled in 5 of the 8 available offensive rebounds during that 20 minutes of game time.

Add Iowa's domination on the offensive glass to the fact that Michigan grabbed only 5 of their 29 available defensive rebound opportunities, and that equals complete rebounding domination, my friends.

Advantage: Iowa

Free Throw Rate

Even though this category is usually extremely important for Iowa, it meant absolutely nothing against Michigan. The Wolverines won this category, but neither team was able to really draw any contact throughout the night. And we should take Michigan's margin of victory in this category with a grain of salt, as they benefitted from two horribly-called technical fouls on Aaron White.

But, again, this category didn't matter at all.

Advantage: Michigan

Overall: Iowa won 2 of 4 Factors

Players

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This past Monday I wrote this:

But what always seems to grab my attention about the adjusted game score charts is the fact that almost every other coach seems to give their starters a lot more minutes than Iowa does. Good teams like Wisconsin or Iowa State have no issue playing their starters well into 30 minutes, but Iowa rarely does that with anyone outside of White or Jarrod Uthoff. I could understand last year, where this team's tempo was so fast that Fran needed to keep guys fresh. This year, though, I'm not sure I can justify the balanced minutes on the court for this team.

Now, I'm not saying Fran reads this website and actively listens to anything I have to write -- Olaseni didn't see many minutes in this one, after all -- but out of Iowa's 200 minutes on the court last night, 156 of them were played by the starting lineup. Looking through my spreadsheet, that seems to be the most lopsided total of the season. Usually Fran tends to split time between Jok and Oglesby and Woodbury and Olaseni, but last night he stuck with Jok and Woodbury for the most part. I think Olaseni could have done some nice things with more time, but Woodbury had a great game and I was honestly just happy to see Fran spending a little less time messing with lineups that don't really help the team.

And sticking with the starters, honestly, all five of them were the stars of this game. Each of the five guys played at least 27 minutes and all of them scored in double figures.

First and foremost, though, Jarrod Uthoff was probably the star of the show. He finished the night with 16 points on 7-10 shooting (2-3 from outside). He also corralled 9 rebounds (3 offensive) and blocked 1 shot. More importantly, however, was the fact that only 30% of his shots were of the long two variety. In the recap to the Wisconsin game, I called out 40% being his cutoff mark. Anything below 40% seems to lead to good things, and that is exactly what happened in this one. He was great.

After Uthoff, Adam Woodbury had himself a nice game against a team that looked comprised of dwarves compared to his large frame. Not only was Woodbury solid around rim, scoring 10 of his 11 points down low, but the 7-footer also grabbed 7 rebounds (3 offensive) and dished out 6 assists on the night. His height allowed him to survey the floor really well against this Michigan team, as he found teammates cutting to the rim and gave guys open looks from a little further out. This was a really nice game for Woody.

Keeping with the Sioux City connection, Mike Gesell also put up a nice stat line, finishing with 14 points on 7-10 shooting. He only had 3 assists, but he also had only 1 turnover, so I'll take it. More importantly, perhaps, was the fact that Gesell actually converted on all 4 field goal attempts near the rim. He also happened to be knocking down open mid-range jumpers against Michigan's defense too, so that was nice to see.

Like Uthoff and Gesell, Peter Jok's jump shot was also falling in Ann Arbor Thursday night. 6 of Jok's 7 attempts were either long twos (2) or three pointers (4), and he made 3 of them (2 from three point range and 1 long two). He finished the game with 10 points and 4 assists, which was nice to see against a solid defense on the road.

And last but not least, Aaron White scored 13 points on 6-8 shooting. More importantly, White scored 10 of his 13 points near the rim and 8 of those points came on dunks. White's dunks all came on a variety of looks: running the baseline against a zone; sealing off his man, catching a pass over-the-top from Adam Woodbury and slamming it home; throwing down an alley-oop after running off a back screen; and he had a fourth dunk that I don't remember the context of and ESPN3 isn't allowing me to fast forward right now, so oh well. Nonetheless, White's 4 dunks and 5 rebounds (all defensive) were important for Iowa in this one, and they played a big part in turning the momentum against Michigan and keeping the momentum with Iowa as the game went on.

To the bullet points!

  • Holy hell, were the two technical fouls called on Aaron White crap, or what? But his response with the gentle slam is one of my absolute favorite moments of the season.
  • White's 4 dunks give him 37 on the season. He now has a dunk in 10 straight games and at least 1 in each Big Ten game. Here is the updated table:
Aaron White Dunk-O-Meter Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Career
Dunks 32 56 51 37 176
Field Goals Made 136 140 143 97 516
Dunk Rate 23.5% 40.0% 35.7% 38.1% 34.1%
  • Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman are both going to be good Big Ten players. They are going to be annoying to play against the next couple of years.
  • I know this Michigan team is suffering from injuries and losing a lot of talent to professional ball, but it was really hard to believe this was a John Beilein offense that Iowa was playing against at times. I believe there were at least five field goal attempts for the Wolverines that never even touched the rim. And the way they attacked, or maybe I should say, the way they didn't attack Iowa's zone was hard to watch as an Iowa fan. I can only imagine how it felt to be a Wolverine fan and watch that.

With the Michigan game in the bag, Iowa heads back home to face Maryland on Sunday. The Terps have looked more vulnerable as of late, and Kenpom is actually calling for the Hawkeyes to win a close one. I don't know about that, but I would say I am cautiously optimistic.

But, for now, let's just be happy that Iowa beat a team they were clearly better than, and they did so by a healthy margin. We will worry about Maryland on Sunday.