Northwestern (17-12) at Iowa (16-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 2:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,400) -- Iowa City, Iowa. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Northwestern 11-5, Iowa 13-5. Away Record: Northwestern 3-7, Iowa 3-8. Neutral Record: Northwestern 3-0, Iowa 0-1. Conference Record: Northwestern 7-10, Iowa 8-9. Series Record: Iowa leads, 108-56.
GAME NOTES: The Iowa Hawkeyes close out their regular season at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, as the Northwestern Wildcats come to town for a Big Ten Conference clash.
Iowa pulled away late with a strong showing at Nebraska Wednesday, notching a 62-53 victory. The Hawkeyes used an 18-5 second-half run to close out the Cornhuskers, shooting 52.0 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes. Matt Gatens led the effort with 16 points, while Roy Devyn Marble and Bryce Cartwright each donated 11 points for the visitors. The win saw Iowa bounce back from a tough loss at Illinois after posting back-to-back victories over ranked conference opponents Indiana and Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes' recent success has them positioned seventh in the Big Ten at 8-9 approaching the conference tournament.
Northwestern may very well have saw its NCAA Tournament hopes dashed Wednesday with a gut-wrenching, last-second home loss to 10th-ranked Ohio State. The Wildcats rallied from down 13 in the second half to tie the game on Alex Marcotullio's three-pointer with less 7.7 seconds remaining. However, the Buckeyes got a quick bucket from Jared Sullinger and John Shurna's halfcourt heave caught the front of the rim at the final buzzer for a 75-73 final. Drew Crawford and Shurna were the catalysts for the comeback, with 23 and 22 points, respectively. NU dropped 13-of-27 three-point attempts and shot 50.0 percent from the field overall, forcing 16 turnovers from OSU. The loss dropped the Wildcats to 7-10 in Big Ten action having lost four of their last six games overall.
Iowa owns an overwhelming 108-56 lead in the all-time series dating way back to 1905. However, Northwestern has had the upperhand of late, winning four straight and five of the last six contests. The Wildcats posted an 83-64 victory Feb. 9 in Evanston. Iowa still holds a commanding 63-17 advantage in Iowa City, including a 23-3 record at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes have one of the Big Ten's better offenses, averaging 72.3 points per game to stand third in the conference. Iowa also shoots a good percentage from the field at 45.0 percent, but the defense is the Big Ten's worst at 71.0 ppg allowed on a league-high 45.2 percent shooting. The senior Gatens is among the conference's top scorers with a 15.7-point average and adds a healthy 67 three-pointers on 43.5 percent shooting. Marble chips in 11.1 ppg and a team- high 3.7 assists while Aaron White puts up 10.3 ppg and leads the club in rebounding with 5.5 per contest. The Hawkeyes hold down a slight advantage on the boards overall (34.8-34.3) with Melsahn Basabe kicking in 4.9 per game in addition to 7.8 ppg. Zach McCabe adds depth down the line with his 7.4 ppg and 4.4 boards.
The Wildcats can be one of the more explosive offensive teams in the conference with their tendency to rely on the three-point shot. NU has the most three-pointers in the conference with 262 and shoot 38.7 percent from long distance -- second to only Indiana in the Big Ten play. As it is, the Wildcats average 69.6 ppg and shoot 45.8 percent from the field overall. The senior Shurna leads that effort and the conference at 20.1 ppg and has a Big Ten-best 79 threes on 42.5 percent shooting. The junior Crawford is a solid second option at 16.3 ppg with 55 threes on 42.6-percent accuracy. Dave Sobolewski kicks in 9.1 ppg and 41 triples on 38.3 percent shooting while leading the club with 3.6 assists per game. One of Northwestern's biggest struggles is in the rebounding department, securing a league-low 29.3 per contest and holding the league's worst margin at minus-5.8. Shurna leads the club with 5.3 rpg with Crawford grabbing 4.5 per game. The defense is also an issue, allowing 67.6 ppg and a 45.0 shooting percentage -- both marks standing second from the bottom in league play.
Northwestern could be in for a letdown after its crushing loss to the Buckeyes, and Iowa has demonstrated its ability to hang with even the best of the Big Ten. This one figures to be another closely contested game with the Hawkeyes getting the edge at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iowa 77, Northwestern 75
03/03 10:37:27 ET