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Here's another chance for the Big Ten powers to separate themselves even more from the pack. Michigan and Michigan State have a solid three-game lead over Iowa in the standings and a win for the Wolverines here would extend that even further. Do the Hawkeyes, who have lost two straight home games, have what it takes?
Iowa was a Top 10 team in the country, but a couple losses have them reeling a bit. Granted, those losses haven't come against the easiest of opponents, but after beating Ohio State on the road earlier in the season, it's tough to lose at home to them in the next meeting. Iowa was dominant all season at home until Michigan State came to town and gave them their first loss. Now facing the other team from Michigan, the Hawkeyes are looking for a big win as they only have two more games against ranked teams, including this one.
As for Michigan, they're in the midst of a tough stretch having two straight road games against Iowa and Ohio State, and then come home to Wisconsin and Michigan State. After the loss to Indiana last weekend, the Wolverines came out gunning and destroyed Nebraska on Wednesday by 29 points. Another big road win like this is something that stands out if they were to get a No. 1 or 2 seed come March.
When these teams faced off in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines played their game and came away with a solid 75-67 win. Nik Stauskas did what he does and racked up 26 points with Glenn Robinson III (14 points) helping as well. In the end, it was the overall inability of the Hawkeyes to hit threes. That's what happens when you don't have shooters, as they shot 2-of-10 from long range.
Stauskas is going to be the obvious player to watch in this game, but surprisingly he only has 15 total points in the last two games. Defenses have started to put more focus on him and he's gone just 2-for-9 from the field. If Iowa wants to win this game, that's what they'll have to do.
The thing about this matchup is that these teams have quite the different makeup. With Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr. taking up the backcourt, Stauskas usually draws the opposing team's small forward. In this case, that's either Aaron White or Melsahn Basabe, both of whom aren't ideal defenders for Stauskas. Roy Devyn Marble will be asked at times to guard Stauskas, but not out of the gate as Marble is the starting two-guard.
On the other end, that size advantage has come in handy with Basabe and White, who combined for 34 points the last time these teams played. Iowa's center, Adam Woodbury, plays a vital role in the middle as he takes Michigan's big men Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford out of the picture defensively.
For the Hawkeyes not to fall in the standings, Marble and White will need big games. Marble leads the team with 16 points per game, but he's a player you'd like to see more from. At times, Marble has taken more than 20 shots in a few games this year, but in others, like the Michigan game, he only attempted nine field goals. As Iowa's best scorer, he needs to do more.
Outside of Stauskas and Robinson III for Michigan, LeVert and Walton Jr. have been great lately which is why Michigan is ranked No. 10 in the country. The Hawkeyes may have the depth, but do they have enough scorers to takeover when the game is close? So far in close games, they have struggled because no one can finish for them. Will that change against the Wolverines?
Predicted Score - Iowa 76 Michgan 73
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