By Patrick Vint on January 21, 2021 at 10:41 am
Trayce the picture
© Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports


TIME 8:00 pm CT
WHERE Carver Hawkeye Arena
TV Fox Sports 1
RADIO Learfield Affiliates
STREAM Fox Sports Live
LINE Iowa -10.5
KENPOM Iowa -10
12-2 RECORD 8-6
6-1 CONF. 3-4
125.2 (1st) OFF. EFF. 110.1 (54th)
96.4 (73rd) DEF. EFF. 92.2 (27th)
71.0 POSS. 66.7
57.4 (13th) eFG% 51.3 (116th)

The Hawkeyes return to the friendly confines of Carver Hawkeye Arena for the first time in eleven days Thursday, taking on the Indiana Hoosiers.  FS1 has the television broadcast.

There's a pretty clear dividing line in Indiana's 8-6 (3-4) record so far this season.  In games against teams in the Kenpom top 40, the Hoosiers are 0-5; in games against teams outside the top 40, Indiana is 8-1, with a loss to then-streaking Northwestern the only blemish.  As if that wasn't enough to make Iowa fans hopeful for Thursday night -- the Hawkeyes are currently ranked third -- the Hoosiers also only have one victory in a true road game this season, and that came at Nebraska.

You would be hard-pressed to find an Iowa opponent more reliant on interior play.  The Hoosiers don't take many threes (just 1 in 3 attempts, which counts as low these days) and don't make many of them (32.4% from three, with only Nebraska and Minnesota worse in the B1G).  That interior scoring, along with just about everything else Indiana does, comes in large part from Naismith Award candidate Trayce Jackson-Davis.  The sophomore forward (6'9", 245) leads the Hoosiers in scoring (20.4 ppg), rebounding (8.5 rpg) and blocked shots (1.9 bpg).  He has taken nearly as many two-point shots (187) as the next three Hoosiers combined (208).  He also draws fouls at an absurd rate, nearly 8 per 40 minutes, the highest rate in the Big Ten (as context, Garza draws 6.8 fouls per 40 minutes). 

Much like his interior usage rate, Jackson-Davis has taken nearly as many free throws (125) as the next three Hoosiers combined (130), which is important: with a middling effective field goal rate and limited offensive rebounding, high-percentage shots at the charity stripe are extremely important to Indiana hanging with high-efficiency teams.  However, Indiana is shooting just 66% at the line, with Jackson-Davis' 69% largely responsible for that rate.

When you get past Jackson-Davis, Archie Miller is working with a short bench, both in numbers and height.  The three backcourt positions are essentially a four-man rotation, with junior point guard Rob Phinisee (6'1", 187, 7.7 ppg, 2.4 apg) and off-guard Al Durham (6'4", 185, 10.5/3.5/3.2) handling the ball.  Sophomore combo guard Armann Franklin (6'4", 195, 12.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg) missed two games, and most of a third, earlier in January with an ankle injury, but played 33 minutes in a loss to Purdue last week and appears to be fully recovered.  Franklin is undoubtedly the most consistent perimeter threat on the roster, making 42 percent of three-point attempts.  No other Hoosier is shooting higher than 37 percent; all but two are below 31.  Freshman guard Trey Galloway (6'4", 210) gets plenty of minutes (23 per game) but not much production (4.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg).  Five-star freshman guard Khristian Lander (6'2", 185) is the polar opposite: He's playing just eight minutes per game, but chucking at a comically inefficient rate when in the game (21% from the floor, with nearly three attempts in those mere eight minutes of playing time per game).

In the frontcourt, Jackson-Davis is joined by junior power forward Race Thompson (6'8", 230, 9.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg), with sophomore Jerome Hunter (6'7", 215, 5.2/3.1) filling Thompson's role in reserve.  When Jackson-Davis needs a breather, Indiana just shifts Thompson into the five role and rolls with Hunter or freshman Jordan Geronimo (6'6", 220, 1.3/1.6) at the other forward.

That frontcourt setup probably isn't going to work against most Big Ten teams, let alone Iowa's parade of bigs.  It didn't work against Trevion Williams, who picked up Kenpom MVP of Purdue's win over the Hoosiers last week with 22 points and 10 boards.  Kofi Cockburn posted 15 and 15 on Indiana in late December.  Even Northwestern's Ryan Young managed 13 and 9, after Pete Nance got in foul trouble.  It's entirely possible that Luka Garza has the same problem -- Jackson-Davis is certainly good at what he does -- but, if not, the Peacock could put up 40.  And if Garza is cooking, Indiana simply isn't efficient enough on offense to keep up.

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