By Patrick Vint on November 21, 2022 at 12:00 pm
The Costanza
© Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports


DATE: November 21, 2022
TIME: 7:00 p.m. CT
LOCATION: Carver Hawkeye Arena
RADIO: Learfield Sports
LINE: Iowa -30.5
KENPOM: Iowa -29 (Iowa 99.6% win probability)

Beat Nebraska Week starts with a basketball game against the Huskers' smaller cousin, Nebraska Omaha.  Tipoff at 7:00 God's Time on BTN.

The last time Iowa faced the Mavericks, it was the Peter Jok season, and Iowa got into a shootout it couldn't win.  UNO had 53 points at the half and ran away for a nine-point win, probably the worst Iowa basketball loss of the last decade.  Yes, that Iowa team had already dropped some other bad games that prepared us for the disaster on that early December night, and yes, that Nebraska Omaha team was quite a bit better than what they have now, but it's worth noting that this isn't a complete pushover.

Otherwise, this looks like a complete pushover.  The Mavs already lost handily to Kansas (understandable) and Nebraska (not so much), and dropped a game against Ball State at home last week.  There are still seven games left on their schedule, including Monday night, where Kenpom gives them a less-than-ten-percent chance of winning.  They're ranked in the 300s in both offensive efficiency AND defensive efficiency, which never bodes well.  They don't really have a profile.  They aren't particularly good at anything.  This isn't going to be a long preview.

Head coach Chris Crutchfield, a former Maverick basketball and football player, has spent most of his career bouncing around as an assistant and JUCO/Division II head coach in and around Texas.  After a season as head coach at Division II East Central, Crutchfield joined Dana Altman's staff at Oregon for a year, then took the head spot at his alma mater.  He inherited a thin roster with no seniors and just two upperclassmen, so Crutchfield hammered the JUCOs he knew from his early career.  His entire starting backcourt -- point guard JJ White (6'2", 185), shooting guard Jaeden Marshall (6'4", 210) and forward Marquel Sutton (6'7", 210) are transfers from junior college.  Sutton has been the most efficient regular on the roster by miles, shooting a thoroughly respectable 48% from the field and 44% from three so far this season.  White has been feast-or-famine at the point, with a 40% assist rate (White has provided an assist on 40% of all shots taken by his teammates while he's on the court) and 31% turnover rate.  They're backed up by freshman Tony Osburn (6'2", 180) and junior La'Mel Robinson (6'0", 160), who is even more all-or-nothing (45% assist rate, 39% turnover rate) and can absolutely wear a suit.

The frontcourt features forward Frankie Fidler (6'7", 200), who leads the team in scoring so far at just over 13 ppg.  Fidler's accomplished that in large part at the free throw line, where he's taken about 1/3 of the total free throws awarded to UNO this season and is shooting 91%.  Center Dylan Brougham (6'9", 195) doesn't do much on offense and is too skinny to do much with legit opposing center.  Freshman Luke Jungers (6'9", 210) relieves them both from the bench, and has been fairly effective at stretching opposing centers out to the three-point line.

With all that being said, the numbers for this team are bad so far.  The Mavericks are 285th nationally in shooting, and 289th in shooting allowed.  They are 243rd in committing turnovers and 165th in turnovers by opponents.  On offense, they don't make threes (29%, 280th nationally) or twos (46%, 254th nationally).  On defense, they foul far too much (opponents get more than 2 free throw attempts for every 5 possessions) and give up an effective field goal rate north of 54%.  They're young, they are playing for a new coach, they don't really have any identity beyond "sustained blanket mediocrity."

Yes, Iowa has Clemson, Georgia Tech, Duke, Iowa State and Wisconsin over the next three weeks.  Yes, Iowa could look ahead too soon and let Nebraska Omaha hang in this one.  But this isn't 2016, and Iowa would have to look so far ahead that it could see the curvature of the earth to make this competitive.  It should be a nice, pleasant evening in Iowa City.

View 8 Comments