College Basketball Pick
Michigan is coming off its biggest win of the season against Maryland on Tuesday, but can’t revel too long in the victory as the Wolverines have to travel to Iowa this weekend. The Hawkeyes may be coming off a more impressive win in East LAnsing, having swept the Spartans on the season. Iowa remains undefeated in Big Ten play with a 4-0 record.
It will be an uphill battle for Michigan as their last Game on the road resulted in an 87-70 loss at Purdue. One of the main reasons for that big loss is the absence of Michigan’s leading scorer Caris LeVert, who will likely be out for this Game as well. There’s a small chance he plays, but that would require him to at least practice before the Game. The Wolverines took down Maryland without LeVert, but it’s a much tougher task to win on the road in the Big Ten, especially without your best player. Even with LeVert, Michigan wouldn’t have an easy time dealing with the Hawkeyes.
Iowa already took down another Michigan team without its best player (MSU without Denzel Valentine) and wouldn’t hate doing so again. This is a team that won at Purdue and swept Michigan State, and is surprisingly now one of the best teams in the conference.
As with every Fran McCraffery team it seems, the Hawkeyes are built on depth and a number of guys that can score. Jarrod Uthoff (18.6 ppg) and Peter Jok (13.1 ppg) lead the team in scoring, but Mike Gesell is quietly having a top season with 9.9 ppg and 6.9 apg. He dropped 25 points on Michigan State and 22 against Nebraska recently. And then there’s Nicholas Baer, who had a stretch of solid Games off the bench for Iowa, scoring double digits in some big Games. It helps that Uthoff is playing the best basketball of his career, but he’s getting plenty of help from others on the roster.
On the other end, depth was already an issue even with LeVert playing, but now the Wolverines are looking only like a six-deep team. In the Game against Maryland, Michigan only had six players get more than five minutes of action, and that saw them get only six points off the bench. While it wasn’t an issue at home, that’ll hurt against this Iowa team.
Sophomore transfer Duncan Robinson has been a huge catalyst for this offense already with 59 made threes on the year. He hit five in the win over the Terrapins and will need to do something similar in this Game. Elsewhere, Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton are the other playmakers and still give Michigan multiple options that can Scoreand create for themselves, which will come in handy in this Game.
Iowa has some lockdown defenders, but if Michigan can get Robinson or Walton going, that would be a big help. The Wolverines usually have trouble with bigger teams and Iowa isn’t one of those squads with Adam Woodbury being their main force down low as a typical glue guy and non-playmaker. Then again, Uthoff’s size could quickly become a problem and it wouldn’t be surprising if Robinson matched up with him, although Michigan’s 1-3-1 defense should take away from that happening too much.
Winning on the road isn’t easy, especially without your best player. So if Caris LeVert doesn’t go for this Game, expect another loss for the Wolverines.
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