Iowa effectively locked up a berth in the NCAA Tournament and recorded its fifth consecutive victory in a methodical 77-63 win at Indiana Tuesday. The Hawkeyes improved to 11-6 in the Big Ten and reached 20 regular season wins for the
second third consecutive season. It marks Iowa's first five-game Big Ten winning streak since the 1996-97 season.
The Hawkeyes relied on the same gameplan that has worked so effectively in the last month, utilizing a huge size advantage for easy baskets and a bucketload of free throw attempts. Iowa finished 21/42 from inside the three point line and made 23/28 free throw attempts. Aaron White, who has quietly made a case for first team all-conference honors in recent weeks, finished with a game-high 21 points and 5 rebounds. Jarrod Uthoff added 14 points and 3 blocks, with Gabe Olaseni contributing 13 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks off the bench.
There is a crucial stat buried in Iowa's advanced metrics: The Hawkeyes are now 18-1 in games where they score more than 1.05 points per possession (and 2-9 when they don't). Defense and tempo have largely been irrelevant this year; when Iowa's offense is efficient, Iowa wins. Tuesday's win was a perfect example. Iowa finished with 1.2 points per possession. Indiana did most of what it wanted to do. The Hoosiers got their share of three-point shots and made 10/25 from behind the arc. Both the number of attempts and the success rate are in line with Indiana's season totals. it simply didn't matter. Iowa played solid defense; the Hawkeyes' pair of seven-foot centers nullified Indiana's slashers, leaving its guards and forwards to contest perimeter shots, and nothing was easy for Indiana. But it's not as if Indiana struggled from the field. The plan is working. Barring a complete offensive implosion by Iowa, the result was academic.
Iowa closes the season Saturday at home against Northwestern. The Hawkeyes will honor four seniors and the legendary Roy Marble, and rightfully so. With a win, those four seniors will do something that hasn't been done since Marble's greatest season: Six consecutive Big Ten wins. It's March. Let's Get Mad Again.