NCAA Basketball: Iowa/Michigan Preview, Odds, Prediction 02/25/2021

by Big Al Staff

A Thursday ESPN college basketball doubleheader tips off at 7 PM ET with a battle between Big Ten teams ranked in the national top-ten.

Iowa won their fourth straight game on Sunday against Penn State, 74-68, as a 10-point favorite. Luka Garza scored 23 points, and the senior All-American leads the nation with a 24.7 points-per-game scoring average. He adds 8.5 rebounds-per-game and 1.6 blocks-per-game while making 56.0% of his shots and 44.4% of his 3-pointers.

Head coach Fran McCaffery returned all five starters while getting three additional players back from injury from the team that finished 20-11. The Hawkeyes, 17-6, are ranked 9th nationally by the AP. They have high-profile wins against Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. Their six losses are against Gonzaga, Minnesota, Indiana (twice), Illinois, and Ohio State. Iowa's 11-5 conference record puts them in fourth place in the Big Ten.

The Hawkeyes are the number one team in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They make 40.3% of their 3-point shots, fourth-best nationally, while posting an effective field goal percentage of 55.6%, 19th in the country. They are also second in the nation, with a turnover rate of 13.6%. But Iowa is 75th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They allow their opponents to make 34.7% of their 3-point shots, 228th nationally. The Hawkeyes’ opponents rebound 30.3% of their missed shots, 261st nationally.

Michigan comes off another showdown with a top-ten team when they won at Ohio State on Sunday, 92-87, as a 2-point favorite. The Buckeyes were ranked fourth by the AP at the time. Hunter Dickinson scored 22 points with nine rebounds. The 7’1 freshman is scoring 15.0 points-per-game while contributing 7.8 rebounds-per-game, 1.6 blocks-per-game, and making 63.9% of his shots.

Michigan took the court for the first time since January 22nd last Sunday at Wisconsin after a three-week pause after the athletic department shut down all activities. The Wolverines fell behind by 14 points before holding the Badgers to 7 of 28 shooting in the second half in a 67-59 victory as a small favorite.

Senior Isaiah Livers' 14.4 points-per-game scoring average is second on the team. Sophomore Franz Wagner contributes another 12.4 points-per-game. Three other players score at least 8.5 points-per-game for head coach Juwan Howard.

The Wolverines have won five in a row to improve their record to 16-1. They rank third in the nation in the Associated Press poll. Michigan leads the Big Ten with an 11-1 record. Their lone loss was at Minnesota. The Wolverines have high-profile wins against Purdue, Wisconsin (twice), and the Buckeyes on Sunday.

Michigan ranks sixth in adjusted offensive efficiency according to the metrics at kenpom. The Wolverines are 15th with a 56.4% shooting percentage inside the arc, which helps elevate their effective field goal percentage to 56.9%, sixth nationally. They are making 38.7% of their 3-point shots, ranking 16th nationally. Michigan registers an assist in 57.9% rate of their made field goals, 51st nationally. Only 6.3% of their shot attempts are getting blocked, 19th nationally.

The Wolverines are 12th in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They are fifth in opponent’s effective field goal percentage with a 44.2% mark. Michigan is also second nationally by limiting their opponents to just 41.4% shooting inside the arc. This team does not foul as they rank 19th nationally in foul-rate. They block 12.2% of their opponent’s shots, 35th nationally. They hold their opponents to just a 42.8% assist rate, 16th nationally.

This showdown is the first meeting between these two teams this season. BookMaker lists Michigan as a 5-point favorite with the total set at 154.

Computer Prediction:  Michigan 78 Iowa 75

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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