Here at SBN, we're fortunate to have a network of informed and passionate partners reporting on schools around the country. And with the Noles making the trek up to Iowa City, we were able to get some thoughts on what to expect from our opponent from one of the best sites out there, Black Heart Gold Pants.
RossWB was grateful enough to answer our questions below, and I shared my thoughts with him as well. So after you these, head on over to BHGP and check out the other side of the coin.
Let's get to the Q&A:
1. Iowa returned the bulk of a team who won 22 games and finished in the top 20 of KenPom last year, but has gotten off to a bit of an up-and-down start. What did the Hawkeyes do right against Marquette and Wichita State that they weren't able to do against Dayton and ND?
ROSS: In both the Dayton and Notre Dame games, a bad ten-minute stretch really torpedoed their chances of winning. They were competitive in the other thirty minutes of each game, but they dug themselves such big holes in the bad ten minute stretches that they were sunk. The biggest thing they did better in the Marquette and Wichita State games is just shoot the ball much, much better. They had an eFG of 60.8% against Marquette and 61.5% against Wichita State and averaged 1.31 and 1.20 points per possession, respectively -- if you shoot the ball like that, you're going to win a lot of games. Conversely, they had an eFG of just 42.4% against Notre Dame (1.01 points per possession) and 53.2% against Dayton (1.05 points per possession) -- harder to win with numbers like that, especially when your defense struggles (as Iowa's did against Dayton and Notre Dame). So far this season Iowa has been fairly middling at grabbing offensive rebounds and really bad at getting to the free throw line; if their outside shots aren't falling, their offense has tended to struggle this year.
2. Jarrod Uthoff is a heck of a player. What's the key to slowing him down?
ROSS: Honestly, part of me thinks that Florida State (and most teams playing Iowa) might be better off letting Uthoff get his and focusing more on shutting down Iowa's other options. Uthoff is an extremely consistent player and able to score in so many ways (in the post, off slick turnaround jumpers near the elbows, behind the three-point arc, at the free throw line) that, generally speaking, he's probably going to get his buckets one way or another. Iowa's other main offensive threats (Peter Jok, Mike Gesell/Anthony Clemmons) are less consistent and aren't as offensively versatile as Uthoff. That said, Uthoff does struggle more against athletic, physical defenders -- if you're able to get up in his grill and harass him, he's liable to get frustrated and become less effective. That seemed to happen for big stretches of the Dayton game last weekend.
3. The 'Noles are best in the open court. How good is Iowa's transition defense?
4. What do you expect the crowd to be like for this Big 10/ACC showdown?
5. Who would be on your all-time Iowa team? Say, maybe a starting five and three guys off the bench.
ROSS: Oh wow, that's an interesting question. My own frame of reference for Iowa hoops really only goes back to the '80s, so I have to omit guys from before that time period, even though I know Iowa had some very good players in the eras before that. But I didn't really get to see them play (even in highlight form), so it's too hard to include any of those guys here.
GUARDS: Ronnie Lester and Roy Marble
I'm cheating a little with Lester because he was a bit before my time, but I've at least been able to see him play a little through highlights and tapes of old games and that's enough to tell me that he was every bit as good as the hype -- and the hype around him was pretty substantial. He was Iowa's best player and a driving force behind some deep NCAA Tournament runs, as well as the guy Magic Johnson once called "the toughest guy to play against in the Big Ten." Pretty high praise there. Lester was an excellent facilitator and skilled at breaking down defenses. Marble is Iowa's all-time leading scorer and a guy who would score in many different ways (although he wasn't a great three-point shooter, aside from his senior season at Iowa) -- he's gotta be on here.
FORWARDS: Aaron White, Jess Settles
Settles was a do-everything forward whose game was a little bit ahead of its time -- he could score inside and out (he'd probably be an even bigger threat from long range today), a strong free throw shooter, a solid rebounder, and a good defender. White is my nod to the modern era of Hawkeye hoops, as well as one of my all-time favorite players to watch. He was a fantastic dunker and great in transition and I think his elite garbageman game would work well with the rest of this team -- he'd be very effective grabbing rebounds and getting easy looks at the rim off his teammates' missed shots.
CENTER: Acie Earl
Earl was a good offensive player who could do a lot of damage in the paint, as well as a solid rebounder and a very good shotblocker. He's going to fill the paint for me, on offense and defense.
BENCH: G Andre Woolridge, F Ryan Bowen, F/C Les Jepsen
Woolridge was a one-man wrecking crew at times for Iowa during the 90s and his quickness and scoring ability could really do some damage off the bench against second-string defenses. Bowen was a strong all-around player who could fill a number of different roles for Iowa and provide production in several different ways. Jepsen was a double-double machine and a guy who could provide even more size off the bench.
6. Prediction time x2: Give me your prediction on the game, and also give me your prediction on who the four teams selected into the CFP will be.