IU women’s basketball will welcome a top-10 opponent to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall for the second time this season.
After losing by 20 to Maryland on Jan. 27, IU will play host to No. 10 Iowa at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Here are three things to know as IU Head Coach Teri Moren continues to look for her 100th win with IU.
1. Megan Gustafson is one of the nation’s best players.
Iowa’s team runs through senior forward Megan Gustafson, who leads the nation in scoring. And if she continues her pace, it will be her second straight year being the top scorer in the NCAA.
Gustafson quickness and ability to play out of the post in Iowa’s up-tempo offense is a skill set not commonly seen throughout the nation.
She came into the season ranked eighth on ESPN’s list of top players in the NCAA but has established herself as the best in the Big Ten. Gustafson’s athleticism will make her one of the toughest matchups for IU’s forwards this season.
The 6-foot-3-inch Wisconsin native provides much more for her team than scoring as she brings down more than 13 rebounds per contest this year.
If IU wants any hope of pulling off the upset, it’ll start with containing Gustafson.
2. Gustafson’s supporting cast has done its part.
Behind the All-Big Ten forward are three more starters averaging more than 10 points per game this season.
Alongside Gustafson is fellow senior forward Hannah Stewart, who averages 11.4 points and more than six rebounds per game. The combination of Stewart and Gustafson will create an interesting matchup with IU forwards Brenna Wise, Kym Royster and Aleksa Gulbe.
Iowa’s scoring at the guard position to match the scoring inside is what makes it one of the best teams in the Big Ten. The team’s three starting guards have combined for 32.8 points per game this season.
Junior guard Kathleen Doyle averages nearly 13 points per game this season but foul trouble has limited her full potential this season. Tania Davis and Makenzie Meyer round out the starting lineup with their ability to shoot the three along with Doyle as Iowa ranks sixth in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage.
IU’s leading scorer Ali Patberg is expected to be back from a shoulder injury for Thursday’s matchup, but it is still unclear whether she will have a minutes restriction.
3. IU and Iowa are heading in opposite directions.
While Iowa climbs up the national rankings, IU is on its way down.
Iowa comes into the game riding a five-game winning streak while picking up wins against then-No. 23 Michigan State and No. 8 Maryland en route to a top-10 ranking.
The Hawkeyes are a No. 3 seed in ESPN’s latest NCAA Tournament projections and continue to trend in the right direction.
However, IU is trending out of the big dance. Coming in with a four-game losing streak and 6-9 conference record, ESPN has IU as one of the first four teams out of the NCAA Tournament.
IU’s offense has become stagnant since Patberg’s injury, as the team hasn’t scored more than 70 points since its last win at Nebraska on Feb. 3.
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