Northwestern Wildcats 12-10 (10-11-1 ATS) @ Iowa Hawkeyes 18-5 (12-11 ATS)
NCAA BB: Sunday, February 10th, 2019 at 6:30 pm ET (Carver-Hawkeye Arena)
Spread: Iowa — -9.5
The Iowa Hawkeyes needed a big win and I mean B1G win to boost their confidence. The win over #8 Michigan (by 15) last Friday was the big fish they needed to reel in. Sure, wins over Oregon, Iowa State, and Nebraska held some prestige but they also lost some prestige with all 5 of their defeats dealt to the hands of conference foes. Iowa lost to Michigan State twice, and the more recent defeat to the Spartans by 15 at home hurt. But here they are looking alright having won two straight after losing two consecutive. Everything does seem to be ok when they play teams outside of the top 25. Outside of that, Minnesota is their only defeat.
The Hawkeyes can thank themselves for being 16th nationally in scoring (81.67 PPG). They can also pat themselves on the back after having covered 7 of their last 9 against the spread and straight up. They started their season 5-9 ATS. Iowa’s one of the best offensive teams collegiately. They’re 1st in FTM, 13th in shooting efficiency, 19th in assists/game, and are 23rd in total efficiency according to Kenpom. Much gratitude for being efficient is given to their veteran athletes in forward Tyler Cook (16.38 PPG, 8.05 RPG, 56.1% FG%) and guard Jordan Bohannon (10.09 PPG, 39.5 3P%, 86.5 FT%). Iowa, though has a couple young guns who can also shoot lights out in Luke Garza (58.9 effective field goal percentage and 64.4 true shooting %) and Joe Wieskamp (62.2 eFG% and 65.2 TS%). With all their success offensively, defensively is where they continue to lack as they’re average to below average across the board. Teams shoot at ease against Iowa (269th in opponent two point %). They’re also 258th in opponents field goals made per game.
The Northwestern Wildcats have only beat one team currently inside the top 50 according to teamrankings.com. Not only that, they’ve yet to overcome a B1G opponent with a conference winning record. 2019 hasn’t boded well for the ‘Cats who’ve lost 6 of 9 to start the year and are losers of their last 3. Basically, Northwestern has not had a good season. Their highlight victory is likely the one over DePaul, 75-68, but that was eons ago.
If there’s any area NW is strong in, it’s their assists on field goals made (0.627, 6th). NW is long with the two bigs inside in seniors Vic Law (15.00 PPG, 6.76 RPG, 1.05 BPG) and Derek Pardon (14.05 PPG, 7.82 RPG, 1.14 BPG) but adding their rebounding help only has them at 255th in boards. The ‘Cats look better on paper defensively. Opponents rank 37th in effective FG% against them. They create a blanket on the perimeter only giving up 5.0 3PM/game and pressuring others to shoot a minimal 29.1% from 3. And good luck attempting anything inside as Law and Pardon have assisted in making Northwestern block 8.2% of their opponents shots. Despite all their struggles, Pomeroy sees them a bit differenty. They’re actually 66th in total efficiency and their 30th rank defensive efficiency plays a part in being that high.
Iowa should have no problem with these ‘Cats. There’s just a multitude of things that are advantage black and yellow, you’d have to nitpick if you want to lean to purple and black. If you were to prop bet, you could give Northwestern the edge in rebounds and blocks. Iowa has had trouble against teams who are stout inside (Wisconsin and Michigan State) but at home, I see Iowa neutralizing anything Northwestern might have the upper hand in. Cook wasn’t active the last these two met as well. Northwestern will do their best defensively, but it won’t be enough to cover.