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Michigan State Basketball: Iowa Preview

MSU begins its conference slate on the road against Iowa

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

Opponent: Iowa

Location: Iowa City, IA

Time: 9:00pm EST

Channel: Big Ten Network

KenPom Line: MSU -1

Scouting report

  • Number one option for Iowa is 6'9" senior Jarrod Uthoff who's been absolutely terrific for the Hawkeyes early on. He's quietly (maybe not quietly, I don't how much you pay attention to basketball) having one of the best seasons in the country averaging 18 ppg with 54%/46%/83% shooting splits, 6 rpg, and even 3 blocks per game despite being more of a perimeter player (however, he's not special).
  • 6'6" Peter Jok is the only other high usage player on the team and while he's nowhere near as efficient as Uthoff, he's another player that can create offense for himself. He also has a solid steal rate suggesting he's at least a decent defender (nothing special though).
  • Iowa also has three other heavy rotation seniors in 6'2" Mike Gesell, 6'2" Anthony Clemmons, and 7'1" Adam Woodbury who've been solid this year but haven't done anything particularly special. Gesell has a great assist rate and is shooting well from 3 but it's a small sample size at the moment as he's a career 32% 3-point shooter. Clemmons has embraced more of a combo guard role next to Gesell and is having his best collegiate season so far. Woodbury has also increased his efficiency and it seems that has come from taking a smaller role in the offense.
  • Iowa is a very good shooting team and they loving shooting it. They're ranked #30 nationally in 3P% and they're in the upper quarter in percentage of points that come from 3's. They also share the ball well (#35 in assist rate) and part of that can be attributed to playing in transition as they have the 61st fastest offense per KenPom (MSU is 105th)
  • Iowa neither draws fouls nor do they foul the opposing team. It seems like they like shooting from outside a lot and that's leading to a lack of fouls.

Four Factors

MSU on Offense

MSU on Defense

Things to watch for

  • Can Eron Harris keep it going? He found a rhythm against Oakland (who's also a bad defensive team) by getting to the line and he had his best game of the year with 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. If MSU is going to have any chance in this game it'll need big performances from Harris and Bryn Forbes (who I didn't make a bullet for because he's been much more consistent).
  • Who stops Jarrod Uthoff? I'm not sure MSU has the right guy that'll be able to slow him down. Javon Bess is likely going to get the assignment early but he's 4 inches shorter and has been in a bit of slump. Kenny Goins has been very good as of late but he's more of a post player who's not used to defending guys out on the perimeter.
  • Can MSU avoid a slow start? MSU was down 13 at halftime against Oakland mostly due to MSU turnovers and hot shooting by Oakland. Iowa is a good amount better than Oakland and a road environment is going to be less forgiving than the Palace which reportedly was mostly filled wit MSU fans. Now they've played a game without Valentine, hopefully they've figured out how to play with each other a bit more and avoid making those simple mistakes.
Bottom Line

MSU won't have its star player in a road game against an upper-tier B1G team like Iowa and that's likely going to cost them. MSU doesn't have a great defensive matchup for Uthoff at the 4 as his height allows him to shoot over MSU's smaller 4's and drive if MSU goes big. It'll be a nice win for Iowa but with Valentine out, it'd be a stretch to call it special.

MSU 16 - Iowa 13

Iowa 78 - MSU 74