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Basketball Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes

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The Spartans and Hawkeyes do battle at Breslin in their only matchup of the year.

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

The Basics

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Iowa Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The Numbers

· Record: 14 -11 Overall / 6 – 6 Big Ten / 1* – 6 Road

· * Rutgers

· Best Win: Purdue 83 - 78

· Worst Loss: Nebraska Omaha 89 – 98

Last 5 games

· 2/08 @ Minnesota, L 101 – 89 2OT

· 2/05 vs. Nebraska, W 81-70

· 1/31 @ Rutgers 83 – 63

· 1/28 vs. Ohio State, W 85 – 72

· 1/25 - @ Illinois, L 76 - 64

Hawkeyes to know:

If you don’t know who Peter Jok is, you’re probably reading the wrong article, but thanks for reading this far... did you enjoy my above joke about Rutgers? Jok is one of the Hawkeyes who helps Iowa average a second best in the league 77.2 points per game, and he has a tendency to torch Michigan State, scoring 42 points in two games against MSU last year. Also on the offensive end, Brady Ellingson is making 56% of his three’s and Tyler Cook and Cordell Pemsl are two other freshmen to watch. Cook is a 6’9 forward, who I imagine Ward will be asked to check, and Pemsl is a reserve who is averaging 9 points and 5 boards. On the defensive end, Nicholas Baer is Iowa’s best defensive option. As a team, Iowa is coming off a crushing double overtime loss at Minnesota.

How does MSU Match Up

Michigan State finally found someone in the conference who they match up favorably against in terms of experience! Actually, MSU matches up with them pretty well in general. Despite their best player being a senior, Iowa is ranked 344th in the country in experience and starts 3 freshman. Iowa’s guards aren’t known for their athleticism, so look for Cassius and Tum Tum to get the rim early and often, while cutting down on the turnovers that drove everyone mad against Michigan (we good not mentioning that game again? Yes? Cool). Iowa gives up a league worst 78 points per game, and at first glance they don’t have anyone who will be able to neutralize Miles Bridges (few do) and I feel comfortable winning this game if it turns into a shootout. Ideally, this will be a breakout game for our offense, where Langford and McQuaid gain back some much needed confidence. Last year, Michigan State went 0 -2 against the Hawkeyes and the second loss at home started MSU on a 3 game skid that dropped up below .500 in the conference.

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

Prediction

Michigan State’s status as a bubble team has been well documented this year, and losing games like this doesn’t seem to be an option if we want to keep our 19 year tournament streak alive. No way Izzo lets his team perform the same way they did in their most recent game that we agreed upon as a group to not mention, and I firmly expect Michigan State to get back on the winning track before a rematch at home against Ohio State on Tuesday. This is MSU’s only Saturday night game at the Breslin, and I expect it to be rocking. As a result, I expect Iowa’s freshman to struggle on an important night for Michigan State at home and can see this one getting ugly late. This has been a rough week for the Michigan State athletic program, here’s hoping Izzo and crew can provide a small uplift. Go Green.

MSU 81 IOWA 69