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On Thursday Night, the Iowa Hawkeyes host the Michigan Wolverines in a Big 10 NCAA basketball matchup. Michigan enters the game ranked slightly higher than Iowa, having played one fewer game than their opponent and sitting at a 9-6 record with a conference record of 3-1 and fifth in the Big 10. Iowa’s record is slightly better at 10-6, but they’re 2-3 in conference play and tenth in the Big 10. Neither of these two teams is spectacular, but they’ve each got talent and that talent level is pretty even, as both teams put up lots of points against opponents while also tending to let up more points than the other Big 10 squads, as they rank in the two last spots for opponent points allowed.
Iowa’s been relying big on forward Kris Murray, who leads the team in points per game at almost 21, as well as rebounds per game nearing 10. Michigan’s biggest game plan will be to lock down Murray on both of those fronts, whereas Iowa will surely be focused on getting him open in space to drive for points. In the paint, Michigan has a dangerous center by the name of Hunter Dickinson, who averages nearly 19 points a game with just over eight rebounds, so Iowa will be making all efforts to keep the ball at the perimeter and force outside shots.
Because of rankings, Iowa is going to be an underdog going into this game, but a home crowd that has nothing to do except go to school sporting events (I’ve never been to Iowa, but I imagine it’s not exactly a booming metropolis) should help the Hawkeyes keep the game from getting too far out of hand. Michigan is by no means a powerhouse squad in comparison to Iowa, even though they’re several spots higher in the rankings. Expect a close game that runs down to the last few seconds and is dominated by tough rebounding and put-back scoring. If Iowa can just manage to keep the ball out of their own paint defensively, it should be enough to stop Michigan’s scoring and win the game.
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