March Madness Pick
This may be a 7-10 matchup, but Iowa is getting a lot of love from bettors and bookmakers as a -7.5 point favorite in most places. The Hawkeyes haven’t been good over the last month, winning just two of their last eight Games with one of those coming by Four points at home against lowly Minnesota.
So why are they favored by so much after falling in their first Game of the Big Ten Tournament to Illinois? Mainly because the AAC isn’t good and that’s where Temple comes from. The Owls won the AAC regular season, but fell hard to UConn in the semifinals of the Tournament by 15 points. Temple wasn’t great in non-Conference play, but losses to Butler and Utah by five and six points respectively show they can compete with better teams. Sure, they also lost big to UNC and Wisconsin, but why are people trusting Iowa right now?
The Hawkeyes lost to better competition in non-Conference play, but started off Big Ten play on a tear, winning their first seven Games with sweeps of Michigan State and Purdue. But then the problems started and there’s no reason to think they can get back their confidence after falling to Illinois most recently.
Everything that was working for Iowa two months ago has suddenly taken a dive. OUtside of leading scorers Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok, nothing is really a sure thing with this team. Adam Woodbury is a tough player down low, but he’s not a consistent offensive threat. The same can be said about Anthony Clemmons on the perimeter, who shot 0-for-8 against the Illini. Even point guard Mike Gesell hasn’t scored more than seven points in the last three Games. While his assist numbers are high, they need him to do more offensively at times.
That said, does Temple have anyone to stop the Uthoff and Jok combo? Uthoff has 50 points in the last two Games and Jok had 29 against Illinois. The Owls just gave up 38 points to UConn’s Shonn Miller and Daniel Hamilton, two similar players. Yet just like the Illinois Game, even if Uthoff and Jok have good days, who else is going to step up? Whether it’s another starter or someone off the bench like Dom Uhl, the Hawkeyes need someone.
Temple is led by guard Quenton DeCosey who scores 15.6 points per Game, but it might be forwards Obi Enechionyia and Jaylen Bond who provide the difference for the Owls. While Uthoff is a great defender and silently averages 2.7 blocks per Game, Enechionyia will be able to match Uthoff in size. Either he or Bond will have to get going in the paint for the Owls to have some success.
Elsewhere, DeCosey will probably be checked by defensive guru Anthony Clemmons. If DeCosey struggles from the field like he has the past month (shooting less than 40% in eight straight Games), Temple could be in trouble. The good news is that the Owls don’t turn the ball over and that could help in at least keeping this Game close.
This is not the same Iowa as seen a couple months ago and unless they have a switch to turn on, it’s hard to see the Hawkeyes suddenly blowing out a team like Temple.
Our Pick – Temple +7.5