GAME NOTES: Two of the top teams in the Big Ten Conference square off on Wednesday night, as the 10th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes pay a visit to the 21st- ranked Michigan Wolverines.
Iowa brings a 15-3 record, which includes a 4-1 league ledger, into the contest, and the team will try to extend its current win streak to four in a row. The Hawkeyes took down the visiting Minnesota Golden Gophers this past Sunday, 94-73, to run their home mark to a perfect 11-0 on the season, and they have won 20 straight at Carver-Hawkeye Arena overall. However, Iowa is just 1-2 in true road tilts, although its lone win came in its last trek as it downed previously undefeated Ohio State, 84-74, on Jan. 12.
Michigan recently recorded a signature win of its own, as it topped No. 3 Wisconsin in Madison over the weekend, 77-70. The Badgers were the highest ranked team the Wolverines have ever beaten on the road, and it was the team's 13th victory of the season. UM is 7-1 at home, with its lone setback coming against now top-ranked Arizona in a 72-70 final back on Dec. 14, 2013. The Maize and Blue have won seven straight since then, including each of their first five Big Ten bouts.
Michigan owns a 90-58 lead in the all-time series with Iowa, and the Wolverines have won 10 of the last 12 meetings, including four straight at Crisler Arena. The teams will get together again in Iowa City on Feb. 8 to conclude the regular-season series.
Aaron White scored 18 points to pace five double-digit scorers in Iowa's recent blowout win over Minnesota. Josh Oglesby came off the bench to nail five 3-pointers on his way to 17 points, while Roy Devyn Marble finished with 16. The Hawkeyes shot 49.2 percent from the field, making good on 9-of-20 shots from beyond the arc, while also logging a 40-33 rebounding margin, and a 27-16 edge in points from the foul line.
Marble continues to lead the team in scoring, putting up 16.3 ppg, while also getting his teammates involved in the action with 3.3 apg. White is the unit's only other double-digit scorer, as he nets 14.0 ppg to go with 6.4 rpg. Jared Uthoff is close to the joining the double-digit hit parade for Iowa, which nets 86.8 ppg (fifth-best nationally) in draining 47.6 percent of its total shots, which includes a 38.2 percent showing from long range. Conversely, the team's foes are generating just 66.6 ppg in hitting 37.2 percent of their field goal attempts, and only 28.2 percent of their 3-point tries. Iowa is also +9.7 in rebounding margin (seventh-best nationally), and +2.4 in turnovers.
The backcourt duo of Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVery were instrumental in helping Michigan upset Wisconsin last weekend, as the two scored 23 and 20 points, respectively, for a team that connected on 54.7 percent of its field goal attempts, which included a 7-of-13 effort from 3-point range. Both players also handed out four assists, while LeVert grabbed seven rebounds for good measure. Glenn Robinson III chipped in 14 points for the Wolverines, who allowed just a 43.3 percent success rate to the Badgers from the field overall.
Stauskas has been one of the more consistent performers in the Big Ten this season, as he is averaging 18.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists per outing. Help comes from Robinson III (13.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and LeVert (12.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.9 apg), and the team as a whole is producing 77.3 ppg while permitting just 63.5 ppg. The 3-point shot is falling at a rate of 38.8 percent for Michigan, which also owns favorable differentials in both rebounding (+2.6) and turnovers (+2.8).
This should be a wildly entertaining game between two teams that have every intention of making a serious run in the postseason. Expect the hometown Wolverines to prevail thanks to the efforts of their outstanding backcourt.
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