Northwestern is officially the team of destiny, and it is written in the stars that they will go on to not only beat Iowa, but also win the Big Ten Tournament. With Tre Demps, anything is possible right?
It's fun to be optimistic again, and an instant classic win against (an admittedly abysmal, Levert- and Walton-less) Michigan team certainly gives reason to be pumped up. Aside from Tre Demps ascending into Northwestern lore, the Michigan game brought out a lot of positives for Northwestern.
Alex Olah ate Michigan's interchangeable 6-foot-8 centers for dinner, racking up another 20-and-10 day, finishing with 25 and 12. JerShon Cobb reemerged from an injury induced layoff to drop 14. Scottie Lindsey got into double figures. Perhaps most importantly, they did it with a maybe 60 percent healthy Bryant McIntosh.
But Iowa is a different beast, even if Northwestern did beat the Hawkeyes in Welsh-Ryan earlier.
Where Michigan is small and quick, Iowa is big and strong, and sometimes mean. Aaron White and Adam Woodbury are big boys at the 4 and 5. I'll set the over-under right now at 2.5 near fights between Sanjay Lumpkin and Woodbury. They got chippy in the first meeting, and both players go up to and sometimes over the line with their aggressiveness. Big boy pants will be a prerequisite in Iowa City.
The story of the game will be, once again, Northwestern's zone. Fran McCaffery did not have his team ready to face up against the 2-3 in Evanston, and if Jarrod Uthoff didn't go unconscious, Northwestern might well have run away with the game. All Iowa did was sling the ball around the perimeter, with no real penetration either off the bounce or on the pass. That needs to improve for the Hawkeyes.
Northwestern is not favored in this game, and probably shouldn't be. It took NU an extra period the first time these teams played to win, and that was due largely to Aaron White reverting to the 9th-grade version of Aaron White and going 1-12 from the field. Surely there's no way an all-Big Ten player does that twice against Northwestern, right?
Northwestern still technically has a chance to move out of the bottom four in the conference if a lot of things go their way, but that's mostly what the Wildcats are playing for. A season sweep of Iowa, if nothing else, would be a giant middle finger to Fran McCaffery, and who doesn't want that?
Time: 11 a.m. CT
Radio: 720 WGN
Line: Iowa opened -12, and although the line dropped to somewhere around 10.5 or 10 at one point, it's back up to 11.5 or 12.
KenPom: KenPom gives Northwestern just a 12 percent shot at winning, and projects Iowa to win 69-58, but KenPom does not account for Tre Magic, so you can throw it out.
Key Stat: 5.9 percent. That's what Iowa' starting frontcourt of White and Woodbury shot from the floor in Evanston, combining to go 1-17 from the floor and 7-12 from the line. If Northwestern wins again, Iowa's frontcourt will have to be similarly inept.
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