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Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Northwestern Wildcats Game Preview

It's a must-win game! well as much as any game can be must-win, after all, regardless of the outcome, all creatures shall perish, and what was dust shall return to dust...

Hit the jump!

Are they good? Iowa has all the prerequisites for a bad Big Ten team. Early season home losses to Campbell - the Camels! - and Northern Iowa? Check. No good non-con wins? Check. A loss at home to Nebraska? Check. But a victory in the Kohl Center, a season sweep of Minnesota, and victory against Michigan at home proves Iowa has the mettle to win games seemingly out of nowhere with alarming regularity.

What are they good at?: Alright, look. I'm going to summarize Iowa into one paragraph, so deal with my lack of enthusiasm. Iowa is good at nothing (well, hypothetically, Kenpom says they're good at not turning the ball over, not getting blocked, and forcing steals), nor bad at anything. They have shooters (Matt Gatens, Josh Oglesby) passers (Bryce Cartwright) scorers (Roy Devyn Marble) and rebounders/shotblockers (Melsahn Basabe and Aaron White), but, nobody is really elite at anything. There's nobody on the squad I'd characterize as a star. Yet, they have a variety of skillsets which somehow combine to make a sufficient basketball team. Multitalentedness is not a facet of Iowa's team. Fran McCaffery seems to me a doctor, but only a doctor in the sense of the game "Operation" where nothing is allowed to touch anything else, and your skills of being a doctor are more reliant on throwing random things into random places than any sort of mastery in the field of medicine.

This is the most valid and the most vapid thing I can say about Iowa.

So, you're bs'ing your way out of real answers. How can NU attack Iowa?: By not being Iowa. Iowa seems to me a combination of variegate skillsets, and the Princeton Offense - more specifically, NU's small-ball lineup - seems a composite for breaking this. Five guys of decent athleticism, shooting ability, and driving ability against a traditional 1-5 setup is a method for chaos - not to mention that where Illinois had a decent counter to a small-ball lineup in a dominant center in Meyers Leonard, Iowa only has the non-proficient offense of Basabe and White. Unless McCaffery has a specific gameplan for NU, I don't see his philosophy matching up well against NU's style of play.

Can NU win?: Yes. Home, against a team it should beat. As I noted earlier, Iowa has a way of playing into awkward victories, and, well, I'll ignore this now.