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Iowa @ Michigan: Beat Beilein

Previewing #10 Iowa's road game against #21 Michigan.

Jarrod Uthoff is Iowa's most efficient player off the bench and the second most efficient player on the team.
Jarrod Uthoff is Iowa's most efficient player off the bench and the second most efficient player on the team.
Matthew Holst

I was sure Michigan was done for. They'd lost Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway to graduation, they lost to something known as the Charlotte 49ers and future first round draft pick Mitch McGary was sidelined indefinitely with a back injury. It was over. The Big Ten title dreams were out the door. Sure, they'd still make the NCAA Tournament but Michigan always seems to strive for a little more than just making the Big Dance.

I was wrong. Most likely, we were all wrong (for now). Since a two point loss to Arizona the Wolverines have ripped off seven straight victories and jumped out to a 5-0 record in the Big Ten. Some of the wins, like those over Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin were hard fought. Others, like those over Northwestern and Penn State were a little easier.

Now, despite it seeming unlikely a month ago, Iowa enters Crisler Arena as a 2.5 point underdog. And why not? Michigan holds a 5-0 conference record, McCaffery is only 1-3 against Michigan and Beilein holds a 9-3 record against the Hawkeyes. Sure, a number of those victories came against Lickliter but hey...the recent history favors the Wolverines.

How have they done it? Brian just dropped a piece this morning explaining. To summarize: everyone has elevated their game. Nik Stauskas has stepped up as Michigan's leading scorer, role players became threats and big men are producing off the bench. The team, as a whole, seems to be improving.

Projected Lineup:


G: #10, Mike Gesell, 6-1, 190

G: #4, Roy Devyn Marble, 6-5, 200

F: #30, Aaron White, 6-9, 220

F: #1, Melsahn Basabe, 6-7, 220

C: #34, Adam Woodbury, 7-1, 240

G: #10, Derrick Walton, 6-1, 185

G: #23, Caris LeVert, 6-6, 185

F: #11, Nikolas Stauskas, 6-6, 205

F: #1, Glenn Robinson III, 6-6, 220

C: #15, Jon Horford, 6-10, 250

Iowa can hang though. Led by Devyn Marble, the Hawkeyes are the highest scoring team in the Big Ten. Often overshadowed by Marble is Aaron White, who averages 14 PPG and has the best 2-point field goal percentage in the conference at .692. White is a nightmare for defenses: he scores, picks up fouls and grabs rebounds. He is one of the longest players in the conference and according to Sports Reference (where I get most of my statistics) has the highest offensive rating in the Big Ten. Most of the glory goes to Marble. White is the guy behind the scenes (he was also locked in a gym one time).

Arguably, OK not even arguably: Iowa's greatest asset is their depth. The Hawkeyes have five guys averaging 5 points or more coming off of the bench: Jarrod Uthoff, Zach McCabe, Josh Oglesby, Peter Jok and Gabe Olaseni. In fact, three of Iowa's highest scorers come off the bench (two are tied at 7.2 PPG). Oglesby has solidified himself as Iowa's deep threat, making 12 of his 20 3-point attempts. Uthoff is Iowa's second most efficient player. Olaseni's true rebound percentage (see here) is ridiculously high and he actually leads the team in blocks despite only averaging 15.5 minutes per game.

Michigan doesn't seem to have that depth. Of their five top scorers, four are starters and beyond that only two other players are averaging more than 5 points per game. More telling is that Iowa has 11 players who average more than 10 minutes per game and Michigan has 9. Two players may not seem like a huge difference but believe me, it is on a basketball court.

Basic Statistics:







































Advantage Iowa: Points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks.

Advantage Michigan: Field goal percentage, free throw percentage, three point percentage, turnovers, fouls.

Key to the Game:

For the most part Iowa and Michigan are evenly matched. Iowa averages more points per game but Michigan has an all-around better shooting percentage. Iowa has the steals and blocks but Michigan turns the ball over less. The key to the game is the biggest statistical discrepancy: rebounding. Iowa averages 11.1 rebounds per game more than Michigan. Looking at the projected lineup you'll notice that Iowa has a height advantage in every position except shooting guard. But I don't think that matters. I think that's deceiving.

What really matters is that Michigan's top five rebounders are their starters. Iowa's top five rebounders include two guys coming off the bench. Do you see where I'm going with this bench thing yet? Statistics tell us that Iowa is going to get plenty of second chance opportunities and is force Michigan's shots to count.

Biased Prediction:

Iowa is losing at halftime, the bench takes over and Iowa wins by 8. Say: 84-76.

All stats from Sports Reference or Statsheet.