All the optimism IU men’s basketball gained in a narrow loss to No. 1 Duke on Wednesday was put on the line in Saturday’s Big Ten opener against Michigan. The Hoosiers came out flat against the Wolverines and were never able to get things going.
The end result was a 69-55 loss that sent the Hoosiers to a winless start to their conference schedule. They’ll get another chance to earn their first Big Ten win quickly though, as Iowa comes to Bloomington on Monday night for an 8 p.m. tipoff. Here’s what you need to know about IU’s next opponent.
The Hawkeyes took a home loss to start Big Ten play
Like IU, Iowa will come into Monday night’s game on a two-game losing streak. The Hawkeyes lost by 24 points to Virginia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC challenge and lost to Penn State at home by a final of 77-73 Saturday. Sophomore forward Tyler Cook led the way in the conference opener for Iowa with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Iowa and IU will carry identical 4-4 records, including 0-1 marks in conference, into their matchup Wednesday. No one likes starting the Big Ten 0-2, especially with the next conference games not coming for another month. Both teams will have plenty to play for inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Monday.
IU will need to protect the perimeter
The Hoosiers have struggled to keep teams in check from distance this season, while the Hawkeyes are one of the Big Ten’s best shooting squads. Iowa shoots 39.7 percent from 3-point range as a team, which is the second-best rate in the Big Ten.
Sophomore guard Jordan Bohannon leads the Hawkeyes’ shooters with 24 made 3-pointers and a 49 percent mark from long range. Bohannon’s backcourt partner, sophomore guard Isaiah Moss, has also hit more than 40 percent of the threes he’s taken this season.
This is a young and deep Iowa team
Iowa Coach Fran McCaffrey plays 11 different players at least 12 minutes per game each, and none of those 11 players are seniors. The Hawkeyes’ seven leading scorers are all underclassmen, including Cook, Moss and Bohannon.
That trio, along with freshman forward Luka Garza, make up the four Iowa players that have started in each game this season. The Hoosiers’ usual starting five, meanwhile, includes a senior-heavy backcourt with Robert Johnson and Josh Newkirk.
Iowa gets to the free throw line often
Just a few short days ago, IU played the team that shoots the most free throws in the country in No. 1 Duke. Iowa doesn’t quite match the Blue Devils in terms of trips to the charity stripe, but the Hawkeyes have attempted about 26 free throws per game this season.
Iowa is converting on only about 66 percent of its free throws, and IU is shooting an equally subpar 65 percent from the line. But if Monday turns into a free-throw parade, players like Cook and Garza could lead that march for Iowa.
Potential starter recovering from injury
Junior forward Nicholas Baer has only played in Iowa’s last two games after injuring his finger to start the season. Baer scored 7.5 points per game for Iowa last year and shot near 40 percent from 3-point range.
In his two games this season against Virginia Tech and Penn State, Baer has only scored nine points and went 1-8 from deep. He started against the Nittany Lions on Saturday though and could do so again against the Hoosiers.
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