Sunday, January 16, 2011

Iowa vs Minnesota Men's Basketball Preview

The Hawkeyes are headed to the Twin Cities to take on a team that they haven't beat since 2007. Unfortunately, I don't think that's going to change after this game. From here on out, anytime that Iowa wins, aside from Penn State (even though they upset Illinois and Michigan State) and Indiana, it's going to be considered an upset.

Iowa's Offense:

Not much has changed with Iowa. They are still around average at shooting, and slightly below average at getting to the free throw line, sharing the ball, and not turning it over. Their offensive rebounding rate fell after getting embarrassed by Northwestern.

Minnesota's Offense:

Once again, Iowa is going up against a team that does everything better than them. Minnesota isn't the greatest shooting team in the Big 10, but they are still 5% above NCAA average in effective FG%. They are really good at rebounding, thanks mainly to Mbakwe and Iverson, and also to Sampson III to a lesser extent. Minnesota is 22% above NCAA average at getting to the free throw line, but they shoot a similar free throw percentage to Iowa (65% compared to Iowa's 64.5%). The Golden Gophers are good at dishing out assists, while not turning the ball over.

Iowa's Defense:

Since Big 10 play started, Iowa has let it's opponents shoot a 64.76% effective FG% against them. That is going to have to change tonight if Iowa wants to win. Iowa has been good at limiting the second chances of opposing teams not named Northwestern and Long Beach State. This skill will be tested against Minnesota tonight. Since Minnesota is only slightly above average at not turning the ball over, Iowa can hopefully force them into some mistakes. Teams have racked up the assist totals against the Hawkeyes this year, expect this game to be no different.

Minnesota's Defense:

There does seem to be some opportunity for Iowa in this game. Minnesota has been slightly below average at limiting opponents second chances. Iowa is a good offensive rebounding team (most of the time) that can hopefully capitalize. Minnesota also has trouble forcing turnovers this year, while Iowa has turnover issues. This could allow Iowa to minimize their mistakes tonight. The Gophers have also struggled with other teams racking up assists on them (16% below average). However, Minnesota has been good at forcing opponents into bad shots. Teams playing Minnesota this year have shot a 46.39% effective FG%, which is 5% below NCAA average. So, Iowa could struggle with their shooting tonight.


  • Iowa player shot tendencies:

  • Minnesota player shot tendencies:
  • Blake Hoffarber is their main shooter. He has a similar shot tendency to Gatens, in that he takes a majority of his shots from the three point line. Their starting point guard Nolen, is about 60% two point shots and 40% three point shots. Ralph Sampson III is Minnesota's only big that has attempted a three pointer this year. Mbakwe and Iverson are strictly two point shooters.
  • Iowa player scoring breakdown:
  • Minnesota player scoring breakdown:
  • Hoffarber looks very similar to Gatens in how he scores too. Gatens has gotten a little more of his points via the free throw line, but they get a lot of their value from shooting the three ball. Mbakwe apparently gets to the free throw line a lot, because a big chunk of his points come from there. That goes for Nolen too. Iverson and Sampson seem to get to the free throw line at a pretty good rate too. 
  • Minnesota, as a team, takes 69.53% of their shots from inside the three point arc and 30.47% from behind it. 54.33% of their points come from two point field goals, 23.08% come from three point field goals, and 22.60% come from free throws. 
  • Iowa has taken 70.84% of their shots from two point field goal range, and 29.16% from three point range. 55.46% of Iowa's points have come on two point field goals, 24.69% have come from three point field goals, and 19.86% have come from free throws.
Opposing Players to Watch:
  • Blake Hoffarber should worry every Hawkeye fan. Considering, the best shooter on every team Iowa has faced this year has seemed to shoot lights out, Hoffarber will probably be that guy tonight. He is averaging 14.12 points per game (tops on the team), he is shooting a 58.7% effective FG%, and 41% from three point range. 
  • Trevor Mbakwe is a walking double-double. He averages 13 points per game (61.1% effective FG%) and grabs 10.35 rebounds per game. He has grabbed 13.3% of all offensive rebounds available while in the game. While that is not that great, he excels on the defensive boards, grabbing 26.3% of those. 
  • Ralph Sampson III averages 10.41 points per game. While his other 6'10" counterpart, Colton Iverson, pulls down 13.2% of offensive and 18.3% of all defensive rebounds. Minnesota has the size advantage tonight.
  • Don't expect Cartwright to repeat his Northwestern performance. Minnesota's point guard Al Nolen is a great defender and could make life tough for Bryce tonight.

Minnesota is the better team in this game. They flat out have a better offense than Iowa. However, there are some things Iowa may be able to take advantage of. For one, Minnesota has struggled at keeping teams off the offensive boards. If Iowa can take advantage of second chance opportunities they may be able to stay in the game. Also, Minnesota has been bad at forcing turnovers this year. Iowa has had turnover issues, so maybe this can help them limit those in this game. I think Cartwright on offense against Nolen will be interesting. Because if Cartwright limits his turnovers against a defensive guard like Nolen, Iowa could be in business. But, if this game is anything like the last two, Hoffarber will shoot 7-10 from three point range, while Mbakwe grabs every rebound possible. Which would mean Iowa could lose by 20. So, let's hope for the former and not the latter. Shall we?

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