What to Expect: Iowa

  • 02/10/2016 2:26 pm in

After a disappointing 68-63 loss at Penn State, Indiana returns home on Thursday night for a meeting with Big Ten leader Iowa. The Hawkeyes, ranked No. 4 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, are 19-4 and 10-1 in the Big Ten.

The game will be broadcast at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN with Rece Davis, Dick Vitale and Kaylee Hartung on the call:

Thursday’s meeting in Bloomington between Indiana and Iowa was supposed to be for first place in the Big Ten. But after Indiana’s disappointing performance at the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday, the Hoosiers can only play for a tie with Fran McCaffery and the Hawkeyes.

Iowa is the surprise story in not only the conference this season, but also nationally. Picked by most to finish no better than sixth or seventh in the league, the experienced Hawkeyes have one of the nation’s most well rounded teams.

And McCaffery, who has never lost fewer than 12 games in a season as Iowa’s coach, is right there at the front of the discussion for both Big Ten and national coach of the year. We’ve written since late December about the Big Ten schedule being backloaded with words of curiosity as to how Indiana will respond to the highest level of competition. Based on resume and results to-date, it’s not going to get much tougher than the challenges Iowa will present in primetime on Thursday under the bright lights of Assembly Hall.

MEET THE HAWKEYES (all statistics and graphics are for conference games only unless otherwise noted)

Iowa senior Jarrod Uthoff is finally the main cog in Iowa’s offense and while many thought the Hawkeyes would drop off following the losses of Aaron White and Gabriel Olaseni, the opposite has happened.

The 6-foot-9 Uthoff is the frontrunner for Big Ten player of the year and is in the discussion for national player of the year as well. He averages 18.5 points and 6.6 rebounds in league play and is shooting 43.8 percent on 3s, 41.8 percent on 2s and nearly 85 percent from the free throw. Uthoff also ranks fourth in the conference in block percentage. As his ShotAnaltyics chart below shows, he can do damage in a variety of ways:


Not far below Uthoff on the scouting report for Iowa is junior guard Peter Jok, who could very well join Uthoff as a first team All-Big Ten selection. Jok is second on the team in scoring (17.5 ppg) and is eighth in the conference in effective field goal percentage. Jok is making 48.7 percent of his 2s and 44.6 percent of his 3s in league games. Jok does have the Big Ten’s fourth best steal percentage, but according to Synergy Sports, he’s Iowa’s worst defender in terms of points per possession allowed.

Like Uthoff, Jok must be accounted for at all times as he can score from the perimeter and at the rim:


After Uthoff and Jok, Iowa has some balance. Four players – senior Anthony Clemmons, senior Mike Gesell, senior Adam Woodbury and sophomore Dom Uhl are averaging between 9.1 and 7.5 points in Big Ten play.

Clemmons and Gesell, who are both 6-foot-2, start in the backcourt with Jok and Uthoff on the wings and Woodbury in the post. Clemmons is a great finisher (55.2 percent on 2s), but is making just 33.3 percent of his 3s against Big Ten opponents. Clemmons is the second best distributor on the team (20.5 assist rate) and also does a pretty good job of drawing fouls with a free throw rate of 42.1 percent, which is 15th best in the Big Ten.

Gesell has been even worse from the perimeter (23.1 percent on 3s), but does a good job finding his teammate off the pick-and-roll. His assist rate of 28.3 is eighth in the Big Ten and he’s fifth in the conference at getting to the line with a free throw rate of 64 percent.

The 7-foot-1 Woodbury isn’t a featured offensive player, but when he gets opportunities, he’s cashing in. Woodbury is making 56.7 percent of his 2s in league play. He’s a plus-rebounder on both ends with an offensive rebounding percentage of 12.3 and a defensive rebounding percentage of 27. Both rank in the top six of the conference.

When Woodbury goes to the bench, Uhl provides a much different look at the five for McCaffery. The 6-foot-9 sophomore is shooting a ridiculous 53.8 percent on 3s in league play.

Freshman walk-on Nicolas Baer, who is 6-foot-7, is playing close to 15 minutes per game in conference play and is making 66.7 percent of his 2s and 36.4 percent of his 3s.



A look at the numbers paints a pretty clear picture as to why Iowa is successful. The Hawkeyes take care of the ball extremely well. They don’t send opponents to the foul line while guarding at a high level. They also shoot it at a very efficient clip from distance.

Iowa’s turnover percentage of 13.4 is the best in the Big Ten and its opponent free throw rate of 23.9 is also setting the pace in the conference. The Hawkeyes are second in the conference in 3-point shooting (just ahead of IU) at 39.6 percent.

There are difficult matchups all over the floor when trying to defend Iowa because their primary scorers are all tall with long arms. That also translates to success on the defensive end as Iowa is 3rd in defensive block percentage and second in steal percentage.

So what are the keys to success for IU? The Hoosiers must take care of the ball, which has happened in recent home games. IU hasn’t had a turnover percentage above 17.1 in Assembly Hall since the Wisconsin game. Iowa is also vulnerable on the defensive boards as opponents have rebounded 31 percent of their missed shots. When IU is thriving offensively, the Hoosiers are attacking the boards relentlessly and scoring second chance points. And finally, IU must figure out a way to make 3s, which is easier said than done against Iowa’s length. The Hawkeyes are second in 3-point field goal percentage defensive in Big Ten play at 28.9.


This isn’t a make or break game for Indiana in terms of making the NCAA tournament, but if the Hoosiers wish to remain a legitimate player in the conference race, it’s pretty darn close.

A win ties Indiana, Iowa and Maryland in the loss column at two and makes for a potentially intriguing finish to the regular season. The Hawkeyes are still the favorite regardless of the outcome, but you can bet Maryland will be rooting hard for an IU victory, particularly after the Hoosiers lost at Penn State.

The Pomeroy line has Iowa as a 2-point favorite and gives the Hoosiers just a 44 percent chance of winning despite a perfect 13-0 home record so far. Sagarin actually favors IU when adjusted for home court by a point. And the Vegas line, which opened with Iowa as a 2-point favorite, is down to Iowa by 1.5 as of 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday afternoon.

Indiana has been a very good team at home under Tom Crean, particularly coming off an extended period of time to prep. Crean is also 5-4 at IU in head-to-head matchups with McCaffery. But this Iowa team is different. The Hawkeyes have won at Michigan State and Purdue and have just one narrow Big Ten road loss, which came at Maryland.

The Hoosiers must find a way to successfully combat Iowa’s size and length to be effective offensively and avoid turnovers which could potentially be crushing in a close game.

In terms of early February basketball, there are no shortage of storylines in this game when you consider the conference race and the fact that both teams are playing for NCAA tournament seeding. Iowa can solidify its march toward a No. 1 if it keeps winning and Indiana is very much in need of quality wins to boost its resume.

(Photo credit: Matthew Holst/Getty Images North America)

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  • StudentHoosier

    First! Go Hoosiers!

  • jmfriedman

    Here’s to hoping the Hall is rocking. I assume it will be, but it needs to be loud and live up to its reputation as one of the hardest gyms to play in for visitors. If that comes to fruition, I think IU wins.

  • Xavier Harkness

    Don’t know who will guard Uthoff and Jok.. they have the advantage there. Maybe Bryant can take advantage of Woodberry. They’re really deep though. Going to be a very very tough game.

  • inLinE6

    This is THE game I’ve been waiting for weeks. Give’em the treat we gave to Maryland last year.

  • Eastwood88_2

    IU by double digits. Not kidding. Fran doesn’t cheat on defense. Free movement and the three will go down. Iu 89-Iowa 76

  • TomEke

    Offensive Rebounds

  • Ole Man

    IU won’t get close to 89 points.
    But I like your enthusiasm.

  • Meadows007

    Does anybody know how early you have to show up with General Admission tickets to still sit in the lower level?

  • Meadows007

    Hopefully OG gets minutes early and can disrupt Uthoff’s flow. Maybe Yogi can stick to Jok?

  • Xavier Harkness

    That’s a massive size difference. It worked on Stuaskas once.. but Jok play a different style. It is going to be an interesting game matchup wise.. I don’t think Hartman can hang with Uthoff in any way.

  • Meadows007

    Yeah Hartman might pick up 2 fouls on Uthoff during layup lines. I’d love to see OG and Juwan take turns on him like they did against Hayes at AH.

  • bleeding crimson

    The student section should be full…it better be. Weather plays on it as well due to travel times but I won’t get there no latter than a hour before tip if not two. Keep in mind that 10 minutes into the first half keep looking down, you may see seats available to move to, which I usually do every game. Only been taken out once and just moved over. Also keep an eye across the floor.

  • pcantidote

    After watching PU (yuck) and MSU last night, and Iowa/Maryland a couple times, I am really worried whether we are mentally or physically tough enough to compete with the B1G elites. Rather for us, it seems like it more so depends on whether shots are falling rather than our ability to impose our will. We have definitely had stretches where we dominated on both ends, but the PSU and Minnesota games have me worried going into this final stretch. Prove me wrong Hoosiers. Impose your will and dominate! Go IU!

  • dwdkc

    You’ve laid down the challenge. The fanbase must step up! I think they can make a difference.

  • Zach

    I’d get there an hour and a half early to have a chance at lower level seats for GA since it’s such a big game. I’ve got friends who are getting in line early afternoon. Although they were on Satudays, the last couple games at home have filled the lower GA more than an hour before tipoff. Best of luck! Luckily for me, I’ve got seats behind the basket so I can stroll in

  • INUnivHoosier

    And if they do get to 89 points, that pie will be delicious.

  • Meadows007

    Wow, ok thank you. Enjoy those seats.

  • SCHoosier

    Woodbury plays an important role for this team…tomorrow his role will be to get TB in foul trouble as quickly as possible. Have no idea which Hoosier team will show up. I’ve always thought IU had a shot at the Hawks in B-town but the PSU stink up was so bad..I’ve lost that confidence. Go Hoosiers.

  • SCHoosier

    In half court..the Hawks are solid…O&D. Can’t afford to give them extra possessions with TO’s. I hate that I have to listen to Vitale..spoils the game.

  • BL

    1. Uthoff will get his. I would put OG on him every minute he’s in the game with instructions to stay in front of him but don’t foul. Just try to slow him down.
    2. Wild card is Jok. If we can shut him down we’ll win. I would have TW and JM face guard him all over the court.
    3. YF must have an all around great game.
    4. TB must outplay Woodbury; bonus if he can get Woodbury in foul trouble early.
    5. We must protect the ball and limit three’s to really good looks.
    6. Big plus if RJ, NZ and CH shoot well.
    7. Iowa’s ranking is legit. We’re an underdog even at home but we can beat them.

  • Xavier Harkness

    That’s putting a lot of trust in TW. OG will only play about 15 minutes maybe a little more. So the rest of the game… done has to guard Uthoff. They’re just a bad matchup for us. Just like Purdue is. But in different ways.

  • BL

    Happy three of the five games are at home.

  • BL

    Provided he plays reasonably well and doesn’t get in foul trouble, I’m guessing we’ll see more OG in this game than we’ve seen all year. Betting he’ll go 25-30 minutes.

    Iowa is really good but I think they’re a better matchup for us than PU or MD. Let’s face it, they have two really good wings. We have four wings that individually have played really well AT TIMES. Collectively, our wings need to hold Uthoff and Jok to a level where YF/TB have a chance to steal the game. Very big challenge but we are capable.

  • BL

    That would just be totally awesome.

  • Ole Man

    Absolutely! I love being wrong when the Hoosiers win!

  • mharv2631

    No way. TW on Jok

  • Eljay

    Great seats, Zac!

    Please do everything you can to disrupt Iowa’s foul shooters when they’re shooting there at your end.

    We’re going to need every stinkin’ point we can muster.


  • INUnivHoosier

    Goggle up!

  • Zach

    This is the stretch of games we’ve all been waiting for so it’s time to see what this teams made of. The Halls gonna be rocking and I can’t wait to be there in 26 hours!

  • BL

    Podcast is a must listen. Good to get comments from a successful D1 player that has attended IU’s practices.

  • Zach

    Agreed and will do!

  • HoosierHillbilly

    This IU team is hard to figure. Never know which team will show up. Having said that, you’d have to be dead to not get up for this game. I like IU at home and I know Iowa is a good team, but something tells me they are playing with fools gold to this point in the season. IU 79-72. We kill them on the boards with second chance opportunities.

  • PacoTaco

    Ridiculous that IU claims “the largest student section in the nation” but forces half of the students to sit in the nosebleeds. The only thing that gets the old folks in the good seats standing and making noise is the William Tell Overture.

  • BL

    Common opponents:

    Notre Dame (neutral site) – Iowa lost 68-62; IU won 80-73
    Nebraska – Iowa won at home 77-66; IU won on road 79-69
    Michigan – Iowa won at home 82-71; IU won on the road 80-67
    Rutgers – Iowa won away 90-76; IU won away 79-72
    Northwestern – Iowa won at home 85-71; IU won at home 89-57
    Penn State – Iowa won away 73-49; IU lost away 68-63
    Illinois – Iowa won away 77-65; IU won at home 103-69

    Throw out the PSU game as an aberration and you could make the case we’ve played as well or better against common opponents. Looking for a confidence boost 🙂

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    I am sold start OG for his defense on Utoff. TW, Yogi, RJ, TB we still have great shooters. Bench gives us JM When OG needs a break.
    CH for TW

  • BL

    Works for me.

  • SeeingRed

    Woodbury, limited athletic ability and short arms not withstanding, has been around the block a little bit. He’ll probably make things somewhat difficult for TB. There are matchup problems aplenty for IU in this one. Iowa’s length will make finishing dribble drives at the rim a challenge, for sure.

    For the Hoosiers to win, I think they will need double digit 3’s and near single digit turnovers — just play a very clean game and make perimeter shots. If they make 3’s early, the crowd will respond and who knows, it might be a heck of game.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Hoosiers are going to have to play their A-game to have a chance in this one. However, if they do just that…I believe they can get this major resume-boosting victory.
    -Our conference worst turnover percentage is a major issue, particularly against a skilled offensive team that is also adept at forcing turnovers and then converting those into points.
    -Hopefully free throws don’t really come into play because if they do, it’s likely that Bryant and Hartman and whoever is guarding Uthoff has gotten into foul trouble. Iowa has been great at getting to the line and good at knocking them down.
    -If our ball movement is good, I think we’ll have success against their D…obviously have to shoot better than the 36% we did against PSU.
    -Yogi needs to have a great game tonight but it can’t come from him pounding the air out of the ball and thinking he needs to be a hero. Be a point guard, trust your teammates and nail your opportunities when they come to you.

    A victory tonight doesn’t mean we are a Final Four team and a loss tonight doesn’t mean that the program is in shambles or that we’re doomed to the annual collapse we all fear. Iowa is a really, really good team and the likely conference champions (regardless of tonight’s outcome) and there’s no shame in losing to them. This is just one piece of the puzzle that is the season, albeit a rather important center piece given the “L” that is probably coming on Sunday. Here’s to our Hoosiers playing well and with urgency and intensity and pride and coming out with a victory…go Big Red.

  • INUnivHoosier

    I think Troy is going to have a good showing. Regardless of feelings one way or the other about him, he seems to show up for the big ones, and this is a big one.

    I look forward to feeling the excitement through the TV, which has been somewhat lacking this year, IMO.

  • IUBizmark

    I never thought I’d say this, but I think we have a better shot beating MSU on the road than Iowa at home tonight. Going to need Troy to drive the lane and make smart decisions to pass or finish AND we’re going to have to shoot lights out from 3. And no careless turnovers. I just can’t see all three of those things happening with consistency for 40 minutes against this Iowa squad.

  • Patriot luvs Jacob

    I have a feeling Iowa will win this going away. We need a beam to fall from the ceiling again to get this game cancelled or at least postponed


    If they do score 89 I’ll be ecstatic cause it more than likely mean we won the game, but then again I’ll be even more upset about the Penn St game. lol Maybe my ex is right, there just isn’t any pleasing me. lol

  • BL

    Someone needs to disagree so I’ll step up. IU protects it’s home court and a shot at the BIG title.