Sunday, February 13, 2011

Iowa vs Minnesota Men's Basketball Preview: Round II

From Last Time
Iowa vs Minnesota Men's Basketball Preview
Iowa vs Minnesota Recap: 59-69 L

The last time Iowa and Minnesota faced off this year, Minnesota scored 39.1% of their points from free throws and blocked 20.3% of Iowa's shots. Iowa actually kept it somewhat close, and only lost on the road by 10, though. This time, these teams face off at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and Iowa has played much better in their house than they have on the road this year. So, let's look at the match up, shall we?

Iowa's Offense vs Minnesota's Defense

Iowa's 48.89% effective FG% rounds out to NCAA average. While, Minnesota is holding opponents to 46.79% shooting, which comes out to 4% above NCAA average. During their last match up, Iowa shot around 42%, but that was also because Minnesota blocked 12 shots. Unless you expect Minnesota to block that many shots again, then there is a good chance Iowa should shoot a better percentage from the field.

When it comes to grabbing offensive rebounds, Iowa has been 7% better than NCAA average this year. The good news for Iowa is that Minnesota has been 2% below average in coming down with defensive rebounds. With Basabe playing great, and if Cole can keep stepping his play up, Iowa should have opportunities for second chance points.

The last time these two teams played, Iowa took 11 free throws. That is probably pretty close to what will happen today. Minnesota is 31% better than the average NCAA team, at keeping opponents off the charity stripe. Iowa, on the other hand, is 9% worse than average at getting there. This aspect of the game is pretty heavily tipped in the Gopher's favor.

Here is some good news for Iowa. Minnesota has been 14% below average at forcing turnovers this year. Turnovers have been a bit of a problem for Iowa this year, giving up the ball at a 4% worse rate than NCAA average. Last time these two teams played, Iowa only lost the ball ten times all game. So, hopefully Iowa can win the turnover battle, once again.

Minnesota's Offense vs Iowa's Defense

Just like on offense, Iowa is about average at contesting opponents shots, and Minnesota is 4% above average at scoring. In their previous battle, both teams shot about 6% below their season average in effective FG%. As I mentioned above, Iowa had 12 shots blocked, but Minnesota had a bad shooting day from their best shooter Hoffarber. So, I would predict Minnesota will have a better shooting day, also.

Offensive rebounding is Minnesota's biggest strength. They are first in the Big 10 in offensive rebounding percentage, in both categories of all games played and conference games played. They are also 19% above NCAA average in this category. The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, keep falling and falling when it comes to defensive rebounding. Their defensive rebounding percentage is 2% above NCAA average, but their defensive rebounding percentage in conference play is dead last in the Big 10. All of this means, I will probably be yelling, "Get the damn rebound!" at my TV all game. Good times.

Here is what really killed Iowa last game, free throws. I mentioned Minnesota got 39.1% of their points from the line. Well, on the season they have been 26% better than the average NCAA team at getting to the line. Iowa has been 49% better than average at keeping teams from getting there. Last time Iowa lost this battle, but both of these teams are very good in this aspect of the game, and I could see this battle going either way. Most likely, Minnesota will take about 20 free throw attempts today, instead of the 37 they took in the last meeting.

Looking at turnovers, Minnesota has been NCAA average at holding onto the ball. Iowa has been 9% above average at forcing turnovers this year. In conference play, though, Iowa has only been about 3% above NCAA average. The last time these two teams played, Iowa won the turnover battle by 1. With both teams hovering right around NCAA average in this category, I could see the turnover margin being slim, again.

  • Iowa player shooting tendencies:
  •  Iowa player scoring breakdown:
  • Iowa player points per minute:
  • Minnesota player shooting tendencies:
  • Minnesota player scoring breakdown:
  • Minnesota player points per minute:

Opposing Players to Watch
  • Trevor Mbakwe is the best player on Minnesota's team. He averages 13.21 points per game, which is second on the team to Hoffarber, but he averages 0.04 more points per minute than Hoffarber. He is also Minnesota's most efficient scorer, shooting a 60.9% effective FG%. Mbawke is also a pretty good shot blocker, as he has swatted 6.4% of opponents shot attempts, while he has been in the game. Finally, Mbawke is Minnesota's best rebounder. He has grabbed 12.6% of all offensive and 26% of all defensive rebounds available while on the court. For comparisons sake, Basabe grabs about 3% more offensive rebounds, and about 4% less in defensive rebounds.
  • Blake Hoffarber is Minnesota's shooter. Like I said before, he had an off day the last time they played. The same thing happened with Jordan Hulls and Indiana. Remember how he played in the second meeting between Iowa and Indiana? Hoffarber averages 14.21 points per game on a very efficient 56% effective FG%. He loves the three point shot.
  • Ralph Sampson III is Minnesota's 6'11" center. He averages 11.08 points per game on a not very efficient 47.8% effective FG%. He's Minnesota's third best rebounder (Iverson is better, but he only played 9 minutes in the last match up), but he's Minnesota's best shot blocker. He has blocked 8.5% of all opponents shots while in the game this season. The last time he faced Iowa, he blocked 19.4% of Iowa's field goal attempts, while he was in the game. Let's hope that doesn't happen again.

It is perfectly reasonable to think that Iowa could get their fourth Big 10 win tonight. Minnesota is not very good on defense, and they don't blow you away with their offensive firepower. The venue also helps, as Iowa has played better at home this year.

Last time these teams faced off, Basabe had a double-double (20 points and 13 rebounds). Iowa will definitely need a similar performance from him again. Basabe vs Mbakwe is a great match up, and I would like to see Basabe contest more of his shots (Basabe has blocked 6.9% of opponent shots this year). May also had a great game in the last match up, but right now, he's hit and miss. It's not always apparent what we are going to get out of Eric May. I could easily see him putting up 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting or I could see him putting up 5 points on 2 of 8 shooting. Hopefully, it's the former, rather than the latter.

Gatens and Cartwright struggled in the last match up. Gatens put up 13 points and Cartwright put up 10, but they shot a combined 8-31 from the field. Gatens was a horrible, 5-21 from the field. If we break that down, he went 2-11 from inside the three point arc, and 3-10 from behind it. Gatens needs to shoot much better than that in this game if the Hawkeyes want to win. Cartwright, on the other hand, will be able to show just how much he has improved his game. His couterpart, Nolen, is a great defender, and should give Cartwright fits. Cartwright shot 3-10 from the field, with 5 assists, and 3 turnovers last game. Hopefully, he can up that to something like 5-10, 7 assists, and 3 turnovers.

I hate predicting Iowa to pull off the upset. It makes me feel like a homer, especially if they get blown out. But, with Iowa playing at home, I feel comfortable picking them. If they don't win, they should at least keep it close. I'm going to take Iowa 68-63. Basabe has a great game, Gatens has a much better shooting game, and I think Cartwright puts up something similar to that second line above. This basketball program has some positive momentum building right now, and hopefully, this game will add to that.

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