Remember how good it felt last night when Iowa was the team running around with flamethrowers and chainsaws and demolishing the opposition? Turns out it's not so fun to be on the other side of that sort of display. Michigan blew a close game open at the end of the first half, added to their lead to start the second half, and then rolled to an easy 74-53 victory from there. The last 15 minutes of this game were effectively garbage time.
The biggest difference, of course, was from long range. Michigan shot 10/30 from 3-point range, though that number doesn't really tell the full story -- most of those misses came after the game had already been decided. Michigan was red hot from deep in the early part of the game and they used that to build their lead and the extend it beyond Iowa's reach. Iowa, meanwhile, was just 1/16 from 3-point range, a night after they made 12/23 three-point attempts. That's a 27-point swing between the two teams and Iowa would need a massive advantage in either 2-point buckets or free throws (or both) to mitigate that sort of 3-point disparity.
SPOILER: Iowa didn't have any advantages on offense in this game. Instead, Michigan made 18/32 2-point attempts, while Iowa was 20/43 on 2-pointers. Michigan simply picked apart Iowa's zone defense, with sharp passing (they had a stunning 24 assists on 28 made baskets) and big shot-making. Five Michigan players scored in double figures, led by Big Ten Freshman of the Year Ignas Brazdeikis' 15 points and Isaiah Livers' 13 points off the bench. They also got doubles from Jon Teske (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Zavier Simpson (10 points, 11 assists) and were comfortably the better team throughout.
Luka Garza and Tyler Cook led Iowa with 14 points apiece, but no one else had more than 6 points (Kriener). Garza picked up where he left off in Iowa's February win over Michigan and had 12 first half points on 6/9 shooting, but he was 0/2 from the field in the second half and scored just two more points after halftime. But where Iowa really got mangled was in the back court and on the wings; Jordan Bohannon, Joe Wieskamp, Connor McCaffery, and Nicholas Baer combined for six points on 2/15 shooting. Bohannon and Baer were held to donuts in the scoring column; Bohannon only even attempted two shots all game. (Isaiah Moss was the lone relative bright spot among Iowa's guards, with 8 points on 2/7 shooting and 4 rebounds.) In comparison, Simpson, Poole, Matthews, and Livers combined for 39 points.
This ended up being a familiar script, not just in terms of Iowa's painful flameouts in the Big Ten Tournament, but in terms of this season and especially the last few games before the Illinois game: when things go bad, they go really bad. Part of Iowa's bad play was a function of Michigan playing very very well; not many teams would have fared well against Michigan with the way their defense was swarming, cutting off passing angles, and denying Iowa good looks from outside, and with their offense clicking for the last half of the first half and the first 10 minutes or so of the second half. But it was all exacerbated by Iowa's own bad play, too, which is something we've seen plenty over the last month (and before that, as well). When the offense struggles to make buckets (and they had some lengthy field goal droughts in this game, unsurprisingly), that carries over to the defensive end, where focus dips and they're not able to get set or stay connected, which leads to easier buckets for the opponent. Everything just snowballs. On Friday night, it turned into an avalanche and buried Iowa.
So now we turn to Sunday night and the NCAA Tournament Selection Show. While this was an ugly loss, it's not going to change the fact that Iowa's solidly in the bracket. Now it's just a matter of seeing what seed they get, who they're going to face, and where they're headed. In the meantime, Iowa added another tale of heartache and misery to their already-lengthy story of Big Ten Tournament Blues.