Week in Review: Ohio State
A huge week lies ahead for the Hawkeyes as they travel to Michigan State and host Penn State. Iowa heads into this week off a fairly comfortable victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes, a game in which #55 score 24 points. Which reminds me, did you remember that Iowa's football team defeated Ohio State's football team 55-24 the last time they played. A lot of people forget that.
The Week in Review
February 20, 2020, 6:00 P.M. CT
Hawkeyes 85 Ohio State 76
Final Betting Line: Iowa -2.0
Iowa City, Iowa
The Positives: The Hawks started fast and opened a huge lead before cruising to a 9 point victory over a Top 25 team that never really felt that close. Iowa was without one of the Big Ten's best 3-point shooter in CJ Fredrick and didn't miss a beat.
A huge bright spot was the play of Joe Toussaint, especially in the first 6 minutes of the game. He supplied energy early and set the tone to get Iowa off to an 18-6 start that ultimately ballooned to a lead as large as 19 points. Toussaint was involved with seemingly every play on both ends of the court in those first six minutes, with 6 points, a steal, and an assist. Iowa added big contributions from role players Ryan Kriener, Bakari Evelyn, and Cordell Pemsl to help overcome the Fredrick injury.
The Negatives: Iowa just couldn't find a way to deliver the finishing blow against an Ohio State team that was on the ropes multiple times. Although the lack of a killer instinct without their best shooter on the floor isn't a huge concern, it is something to keep an eye on as the postseason draws near.
Iowa also didn't find a way to get Joe Wieskamp going, and with the possibility of CJ Fredrick being out again against Michigan State, that has to be a priority for the shorthanded Hawkeyes.
The Takeaway: Iowa continues to find ways to win and is getting great contributions lately from their bench and role players. This team is peaking at the perfect time, with Cordell Pemsl's two best games of the season being his last two, Bakari Evelyn coming up clutch in the last two, and Joe Toussaint starting to play like a guy who is comfortable in his role.
Luka Garza continued to be dominant, posting yet another 20 point game and playing through double teams all night. He got others involved by dishing out 4 assists and pulled down 6 rebounds.
In many ways, this was one of the most impressive team wins that Iowa has had all year. Garza has 24 points, but the scoring behind him was exceptionally balanced, with all 7 Iowa players scoring and only Connor McCaffery recording less than 9 points. If Iowa can continue to get scoring from everyone on the floor, this offense will be incredibly hard to stop, just like they were Thursday. Add CJ Fredrick back into the mix and you might just have a recipe for Iowa to be that team that no one wants to see in March.
From The Corner of Kinnick's Player(s) of the Week: The Iowa Bench - Cordell Pemsl and Bakari Evelyn combined for 24 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, and just 2 turnovers
A Look Ahead
Iowa has a monster week ahead as they will travel to East Lansing, Michigan on Tuesday to square of with the Spartans before returning home to host the Nittany Lions of Penn State on Saturday.
Iowa enters the Tuesday matchup with Sparty as the higher ranked team for the first time since the 2006 Big Ten Tournament. Michigan State has lost two straight games at home for the first time since 2016 and have not lost three straight home games since the 90's, so an Iowa win will be a tall task.
The single biggest key for Iowa on Tuesday will be to start the game strong. Far too often, teams get blitzed out of the gate in the Breslin Center and find themselves digging out of a deep hole all night. Iowa matches up fairly well with the Spartans in the guard court and at the center positions, but Michigan State is incredibly athletic at all positions. Iowa's energy will need to be top notch to hang with the Spartans. The health of CJ Fredrick is impactful on this game, but his health in March is far more important than this single game.
Regardless of whether Fredrick plays or not, Iowa is in for a tough but very winnable game on Tuesday. This isn't an elite Tom Izzo coached team, but they have been solid all year. Iowa has to finish possessions with rebounds, can't give up 2nd chances to Sparty, and will have to get back in transition defense. Iowa should hang around in this one and it wouldn't surprise me if they pulled the upset on the road, but it is tough to see many ways for Iowa to win without out being close to flawless in a tough environment. Iowa represents themselves well, but comes up short losing by 6-8 points.
Saturday presents a chance at redemption for Iowa as Penn State comes to town for an early morning tip. Penn State took the first matchup this year in the Palestra by a score of 89-86. Iowa matches up well with Penn State, and are catching the Lions at the right time after they dropped a tough one this weekend to the Indiana Hoosiers.
All signs seem to be in Iowa's favor in this game, with redemption on the line, Penn State being in a bit of a tail spin after dropping two straight games, and Iowa having only lost one game within the walls of Carver Hawkeye Arena all year. This game seems like another one that could go the way of Ohio State. Iowa jumps all over the Nittany Lions early, then will keep them at arm's length all day, winning comfortably in the end by around 10 points.
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Current Big Ten Standings (Following Games on February 18)
1. Maryland - 22-5 (12-4) (--)
2. Penn State - 20-7 (10-6) (--)
3. Iowa - 19-8 (10-6) (--)
4. Michigan State - 18-9 (10-6) (--)
5. Wisconsin - 17-10 (10-6) (+2)
6. Illinois - 18-9 (10-6) (--)
7. Michigan - 18-9 (9-7) (+2)
8. Rutgers - 18-10 (9-8) (-3)
9. Indiana - 18-9 (8-8) (+2)
10. Ohio State - 18-9 (8-8) (-2)
11. Minnesota - 13-13 (7-9) (+1)
12. Purdue - 14-14 (7-10) (-2)
13. Nebraska - 7-20 (2-14) (--)
14. Northwestern - 6-20 (1-15) (--)