Contributions: Z Ficht
This evening the Hawkeyes of Iowa invade Crisler Arena to take on our beloved Wolverines, with hopes of handing the Boys-in-Blue their first conference loss of the season. Iowa is ranked in the top 10 for the first time since Jan 1, 2002 and are coming off a 21 point shellacking of Minnesota at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. While Iowa is riding high, Michigan finds themselves trying to manage their way through a three game stretch in which all three opponents are top 10 teams. The wolverines were able to overcome their first obstacle: Beating then #3 ranked Wisconsin Badgers, (in Madison mind you) 77-70 thanks in large part to Nik Stauskas and this absolute dagger to the cheese filled hearts of Badgers fans everywhere:
Oh my goodness! That was….
Are you sure you want some of this Iowa? I mean you’re top 10 ranking is adorable and certainly higher than where the Wolverines currently stand, but we both know this can’t last. You’re…Iowa. Fran, Fran! Settle down, no Fran don’t do that!
Annnd Fran is gone. Fun fact about the McCafrey family, I recently found out that Fran’s brother sells RV’s in the greater Des Moines area (widely disputed fact) and is known as the “Winnebago Man.” An example of his excellent work is featured below:
But getting back to the point: Iowa is next up in the gauntlet for Michigan. Despite the fact that Iowa is best known for being the most irrelevant state in the country (just ahead of South Dakota), their basketball team is actually making some noise this season. The Hawkeyes sit at 15-3 and 4-1 in conference; their only B1G blemish was from the same Badgers team that Michigan just roundhouse kicked into submission.
Actual clip from Michigan vs. Wisconsin
And that, along with their mind boggling 86.8 points a game (fifth best in the country) has Iowa in a great position to challenge down the stretch for a B1G title. Iowa is undefeated on their home floor, but are an underwhelming 1-2 in true road games so far this season.
Iowa is led by Senior Roy Devyn Marble and Junior Aaron White, who are key cogs in the offensive resurgence that McCaffery is putting together. This is a team who is shooting the lights out from everywhere on the floor, unlike last year’s bunch, who couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat. Michigan will have to try and find a way to slow down their offensive production as the Hawkeyes have been absolutely burning up the court so far this season.
Michigan will look to slow down Iowa’s offensive output with the help of their resident sharp shooter and all around offensive machine in Nik Stauskas. Stauskas has been improving his game throughout the season and has helped become the go to guy in Head Coach John Beilein’s offense. Nik currently leads the B1G in scoring at 18 points per game and has been turning some heads with his play as of late, causing many to wonder if this will be Stauskas’s last year in Ann Arbor.
Do it Nik, it’s a full proof plan!
However, it should be noted that Nik isn’t shouldering the weight of this Mitchless team by himself. Big men Jordan Morgan and John Horford have proven to be invaluable down low for Beilein’s club, playing crucial minutes and especially in Horford’s case, showing off an improved ability to score the basketball. The whole team looks to be improving: the bigs, Derrick Walton, Caris Levert, Nik but GR3 is over here like..
Okay, that’s not fair, Glenn is having a pretty good season so far. It is just that his numbers have yet to really jump out at you. Robinson is currently averaging 13.9 points coupled with 4 boards and 1 asst per contest. With all the hype that critics and analysts alike love to shower Glenn with, I’ve yet to see it. He relies too much on natural ability and while it does provide the crowd pleasing half court oop, or 360 dunk, outside of those electrifying one or two plays a game, he gets lost. For Big Blue to hang down the stretch of this B1G title race they are going to need Glenn to start contributing more. There will be games where Stauskas is cold, or gets locked down and they will need Glenn. The talent is there and he’s got one heck of a coach in his ear, so I still have a lot of faith that Glenn will start dominating soon…hopefully tonight.
Iowa plays fast but that speed can be neutralized if Michigan protects the ball and doesn’t let Iowa get out in transition. Both squads are shooting the rock with stunning efficiency. On the road I would hesitate to take our Boys-in-Blue, but in the friendly confines of Crisler Arena where losses are rarer than Matthew Stafford fourth quarter touchdown passes I’m taking Michigan.
Uncalled for…This Post Isn’t Even About Football!
Stauskas bangs home 22 pts with a near double double from either Horford or Morgan (take your pick) and Michigan squeaks by with a 79-75 win setting up a HUGE showdown against Michigan State Saturday. Let’s Go Blue!