IOWA HAWKEYES vs.
|TIME||11:00 am CT|
|WHERE||Assembly Hall, Bloomington|
|STREAM||Fox Sports Live|
TALE OF THE TAPE
|126.1 (1st)||OFF. EFF.||111.2 (44th)|
|99.8 (130th)||DEF. EFF.||92.3 (28th)|
|55.8 (16th)||eFG%||51.2 (121st)|
Just two weeks removed from their first meeting of the season, Iowa and Indiana tangle again on Fox Sunday morning. Both teams are in desperate need of a win. Gus and Bill will have the call for your Super Bowl appetizer.
Two weeks later, and the Indiana analysis remains largely unchanged from last time: Indiana is undersized and playing with a short bench. Since defeating Iowa, the Hoosiers have suffered two home losses by a total of eight points, dropping games against Rutgers and Illinois. Those aren't bad losses. They're the kind expected of a team in the lower-middle of the Big Ten, which is probably where Indiana resides.
If there is a shift since that game at CHA, it's Indiana's three-point shooting. Entering the first meeting, the Hoosiers were shooting just 32.4% from three. They had just gone 3/18 from behind the arc in a loss to Purdue. Of course, Iowa's perimeter defense makes every opponent look like the 2015 Golden State Warriors, so the Hoosiers shot 8/17 (41.7%) in Iowa City. But they've kept up the hot shooting since: 10/16 against Rutgers and 4/8 against Illinois. It's still not a huge part of Indiana's offensive strategy, but it's better than it used to be.
This feels like a game where changes by Iowa, or a lack thereof, are going to matter more than anything Indiana does. The 30,000-foot view of Iowa's strategy in a world without C.J. Fredrick appears to be something like this: Everything runs through Garza, which means everything runs off double-teams, triple-teams and quadruple-teams. Garza's role mandates heavy involvement in the offense by Connor McCaffery, who is unparalleled as a post-feeder and keeps the trains running on time everywhere else, but Connor is a null set as a scorer. He's down to 27% from three and just 55% at the free throw line. So if you need to double Garza, you can leave Connor alone. Keegan Murray is doing good things, but he's not a good perimeter shooter yet and needed on the opposite block.
That leaves Wieskamp and the point guard to make an opponent pay for throwing everything at Garza. The need for a second perimeter scoring option mandates Jordan Bohannon play the majority of those minutes. The other options don't fit as well: Joe Toussaint has taken just nine three-point shots this year, less than half the total of anyone else on the squad, and his slash-and-kick game doesn't work as well when the lane is already packed with defenders. It's why Toussaint's minutes come largely with Garza off the court, when Iowa needs a Plan B and the lane has opened up. Tony Perkins and Ahron Ulis are intriguing, but not ready for that level of involvement quite yet. So it's Bohannon, but playing Bohannon that many minutes requires Iowa find a cover for him on defense, hence the 2-3 zone. And opponents are murdering the 2-3 with hell from above, pouring modestly-contested threes in at an absurd rate. Iowa is comfortable playing that way, and the offense obviously works, so we're just going to have to live with the three-point barrage.
Indiana's slow-down strategy (that tempo rating is 300th nationally; there are only a dozen power-conference teams playing slower) took Iowa out of its comfort zone last time. It will likely be only more effective in their home gym, so Iowa will either need to press the tempo or find efficiencies at the margins. Given that Iowa is already the most efficient offense in the nation, such improvements would likely have to come on defense, and we're past the point of hope on the defense improving with the current personnel. Unless Fredrick comes back, I don't see Iowa changing much. And that's certainly a potential problem Sunday morning.