Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Iowa Preview #2

Iowa (14-13 overall, 4-10 in conference)

Why Iowa Could Win:
1) Good 3-Pt Shooting - The Hawkeyes have continued to rely on their outside shooting. Nearly 40% of their offense this year has come from 3-pointers. Freshman start Matt Gatens leads them with a 38% conversion rate from behind the arc. He was held in check during the last matchup and finished 3-8 from distance with 13 points.
2) Free Throw Shooting - This is one of the few bright spots on this Iowa team. Within Big Ten play, the Hawkeyes have hit over 74% of their free throws. If it is a close game, this could make a difference.
3) Good Coaching - Despite their poor conference record, Todd Lickliter is doing a great job with this team. Just before the conference started, he lost his second leading scorer, Anthony Tucker, to academic inelgibility and his best rebounder, Cyrus Tate, to injury. He has still managed wins over Wisconsin and Michigan during this time. In all honesty, this is one of the most depleted teams that I have ever seen in the Big Ten and for them to have one four games so far is a major accomplishment.
4) Stamina - I just had to throw this in because they had four players play all of regulation and overtime against Michigan on Sunday. I have never seen that before. Four guys with fourty-five minutes? That has to be some kind of record.

Keys to a Michigan State Victory:
1) Score Early - I think it is important to jump ahead early against a depleted team like Iowa. We can't afford to let them hang around and think that they can win this game. The longer the game stays close, the more confidence that they will have.
2) Rebounding - The Hawkeyes surprisingly did a good job against Michigan State on the glass in their last matchup. The Spartans only grabbed 8 more rebounds than Iowa. Michigan State will need to continue their dominence on the boards.
3) Pound It Down Low - I didn't think that we exploited Iowa's lack of size very well in the first meeting. Cyrus Tate is their most dominate low post presence, but he has played very sparingly after he hurt his ankle. I think we really need to establish our bigs down on the block. Suton should be a big matchup problem for the Iowa defense. I also think that Gray would be a good option in this game.
4) Limit Turnovers - I should just say this for every game. We will have a hard time beating any team if we don't take care of the ball.
5) Push the Ball - Look for the Spartans to really dictate the tempo of this game. Iowa isn't nearly as athletic as we are.

As appealing as it sounds, I do not think that this will be a trap game for Michigan State. I do not see any possible way that Iowa could manage to beat Michigan State at home with their limited roster. It would take 20+ turnovers from Michigan State and a very strong individual performance from Matt Gatens for the Hawkeyes to get the win.

In the end, Michigan State stays focused and eclipses 70 points for the first time in their last three games.

Michigan State over Iowa 74-59.

"We have to improve offensively and we have to quit turning the ball over."
--Tom Izzo

"I thought he was a stretch at Penn State. Boy, was I wrong."
--Tom Izzo on the recruitment of Jamaal Cornley. Link to the article here.

Other Michigan State Notes
1) Izzo Ranked Sixth Best College Basketball Coach by Forbes - The magazine used a number of criteria, but essentially it goes back four years and takes into account Final Four appearances, championships, recruiting success, and graduation rates. Roy Williams was number one, followed by Bill Self, Ben Howland, Coach K, and Billy Donovan. In my own, unresearched poll, I put Coach K as number one, although I despise him. You can find the story here.
2) Jim Boylen Thriving at Utah - Link to article here. The Utes are winning their conference and are 19-7 overall.
3) Izzo's Name Still Being Mentioned in Arizona - Link is here. I can't see it happening. I see Izzo pulling a Barry Sanders some day and abruptly retiring, but not leaving to go to another university.

Free MSU DVD Giveaway
Keep checking back on the blog as I will be giving out DVDs of "Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball." This was featured earlier in the year on the Big Ten Network. I plan on having a contest of predicting the result and score of the Illinois game on Saturday.

That's Ridiculous
Just in case you didn't check out the link from yesterday:

Tomorrow: Iowa Post Game.

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