Big Ten Tournament Handicapping Selections: Iowa Hawkeyes vs Northwestern Wildcats
2014 Big Ten Tournament – First Round
Banker’s Life Fieldhouse – Indianapolis, Indiana
#6 Iowa Hawkeyes vs #11 Northwestern Wildcats
Thursday, March 13, 2014, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Iowa -12
Current Line: Iowa-13 1/2
Opening Total: 132 1/2
Current Total: 132 1/2
Opening Money Line: Iowa -1000 / Northwestern +670
Current Money Line: Iowa -1200 / Northwestern +760
The 20-11 Iowa Hawkeyes were once a top 15 team this season and considered a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament. However, the Hawkeyes closed the season losing 5 of their last 6 games, including two straihgt losses. The Hawkeyes look to regain momentum in the Big Ten tournament. Iowa is still probably safe to make the NCAA Tournament but a couple of wins wouldn’t hurt their chances.
Iowa is 9-9 in conference and alone in sixth place. This is the third season in a row that Iowa has been the #6 seed in the Big Ten tournament. The Hawkeyes will take on #11 seed Northwestern in Thursday’s first round. The Wildcats are 13-18 this season and tied for 10th in the Big Ten with a 6-12 record with Penn State. The winner of Iowa and Northwestern will face #3 seed Michigan State in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Iowa leads the series against Northwestern 113-57, and the Hawkeyes have won 5 straight games against the Wildcats. Iowa won both meetings this season by 26 points, 93-67 in Iowa City January 9, and 76-50 in Evanston January 25. Iowa is 2-0 all-time against Northwestern in the Big Ten tournament.
Northwestern is coached by Chris Collins. The Wildcats have losses at Stanford, Illinois State, Missouri and UCLA in tournament in Las Vegas, at North Carolina State, DePaul, Wisconsin, at Michigan, Iowa twice, Michigan State twice, Nebraska twice, Minnesota, at Ohio State, Indiana and Penn State. Northwestern has key wins over Illinois-Chicago, Western Michigan, Brown, Illinois, at Indiana, Purdue twice (including 74-65 at Purdue Sunday), at Wisconsin, and at Minnesota. The Purdue win snapped a 7 game losing streak for Northwestern. The Wildcats are 11-19 ATS and the total is 9-21 this season.
Northwestern is being outscored 63-60 this season. The Wildcats are #33 nationally in points allowed but #349 out of 351 teams in scoring. Northwestern is shooting 39.3% from the field and 30% from 3 point range. The Wildcats are #334 or worse in both categories. Northwestern makes 69.7% of their free throws. Wildcat opponents are shooting 41.3% from the field and 31.5% from three point range. Northwestern is #50 nationally in 3 point defense. The Wildcats average 32.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 33.6. The Wildcats are #276 or worse nationally in both categories. Northwestern averages 10.9 assists, 10.8 turnovers, 4.4 steals and 3.7 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.3 assists, 10.4 turnovers, 6.2 steals and 3.9 blocks per game.
Guard/forward Drew Crawford averages 15.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1 block per game. Guard JerShon Cobb averages 12.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. He is out for the season with a foot injury. Guard Tre Demps averages 10.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Center Alex Olah averages 9.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Guard Dave Sobolewski averages 4.8 points, 2 rebounds and 2.4.2 assists per game. Sanjay Lumpkin, Kale Abrahamson and Nathan Taphorn will also get time in the rotation.
Iowa is coached by Fran McCaffery. The Hawkeyes have losses to Villanova in the Championship game of a tournament in the Bahamas, at Iowa State, Wisconsin twice, at Michigan, Michigan State twice, Ohio State, at Minnesota, at Indiana, and Illinois 66-63 Saturday. Iowa has key wins over Pennsylvania, Xavier and UTEP both in the Bahamas, Notre Dame, Drake in Des Moines, Nebraska, Northwestern twice, at Ohio State, Minnesota, at Illinois, Michigan, at Penn State and Purdue. Iowa is 15-14 ATS and the total is 20-8 this season.
Iowa is outscoring teams 83-70 this season. The Hawkeyes are #6 nationally in scoring. Iowa is shooting 47% from the field and 35.8% from 3 point range. Iowa is #50 nationally in field goal percentage. The Hawkeyes make 72.9% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 41.1% from the field and 31.4% from 3 point range. The Hawkeyes are #46 in 3 point defense. Iowa is seventh nationally in rebounding at 40.9 per game and opponents are averaging 29.8. The Hawkeyes average 16.3 assists, 11.5 turnovers, 7.3 steals and 5.1 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.8 assists, 13.5 turnovers, 6.5 steals, and 3.5 blocks per game.
Guard Roy Devyn Marble averages 17 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Forward Aaron White averages 13.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. Guard Mike Gesell averages 8.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Forward Melsahn Basabe averages 7.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Forward Jarrod Uthoff averages 7.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. Forward Zach McCabe averages 6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Guard Peter Jok averages 4.3 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Gabriel Olaseni, Adam Woodbury, Josh Oglesby, and Anthony Clemmons will also get significant time in the rotation.
Northwestern is 2-5 ATS in neutral site games, 2-6 overall and in Big Ten games, 3-10 after a straight up win, 3-12 after a cover, 1-5 against teams with winning records, and 0-8 in Thursday games. The over is 7-3-1 in the last 11 games in this series.
Iowa is 6-0 ATS against teams with losing records, 3-7 in Thursday games, 0-4 after a straight up loss, 0-5 after failing to cover, 0-6 overall and against Big Ten teams. The Hawkeyes have covered the last 5 times against the Wildcats and were favored in the last 4 meetings.
Iowa is limping into the Big Ten tournament, having lost 2 straight games. However, a game against a team that struggles on offense that the Hawkeyes routed twice during the regular season could be the best medicine for Iowa. Northwestern struggled to score even before Cobb went down the injury. Iowa should win this game handily to set up another match-up with Michigan State.