The Iowa Hawkeyes will turn things around at home Monday night as Big Ten foe Minnesota comes to town. Iowa is coming off of a tough seven-day period that saw it travel to Las Vegas to play a tough San Diego State team, then to Syracuse for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, before wrapping up with a game at Michigan on Friday night. The Hawkeyes went 1-2 during the stretch despite averaging nearly 78 points per game.
Iowa is now 6-3 and led by senior big man Luka Garza, who is averaging 22.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game and coming off a 44-point, eight-rebound performance in the loss to Michigan. In his last two games, Garza is 26 of 47 from the floor. Senior guard Jordan Bohannon has struggled recently, averaging just 9.3 points per game and shooting 33 percent from the floor. The career 41 percent three-point shooter is connecting on just 34.6 percent of his three-point attempts so far this season, and you have to wonder how much his hip is bothering him.
Minnesota is also led by a talented big man in sophomore Daniel Oturu. The 6-10 center is currently averaging a double-double with 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game to go along with 3.4 blocks. Former Pittsburgh guard Marcus Carr is also settling in nicely at Minnesota, averaging 14.4 points, 6.6 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game with over a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Minnesota also boasts threats Gabe Kalscheur and Payton Willis on the wings as three-point shooters.
Iowa is a 6.5-point favorite at home, while the over/under for this game has been set at 144.5.
Can The Gophers Unearth A Conference Road Win?
The Gophers are 3-1 in their last four, with the lone loss being home against DePaul (which isn’t terrible this season), and the best victory being an 18-point rout of Clemson in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at home in their last outing. The Gophers are 0-2 in true road games this season but also a nice 5-2-1 ATS. If they could somehow find a way to make free throws (63 percent on the season) and produce some live-ball turnovers on defense, this team could surprise some people.
Flying Right At Home
Fran McCaffery’s team is looking to shake off the lag of travel and get right at home in what should be a winnable game. Bohannon and Joe Weiskamp need to show a little bit of consistency going into Big Ten play if this team is going to contend for a tournament berth. Neither has been bad, but both are shooting less than 40 percent from the field. The Hawkeyes are 5-1 ATS at home so far this season, and Minnesota has not been playing consistent basketball up to this point either.
Pick and Prediction
Iowa is the safe side here as the Hawkeyes have the best player in the game in Garza as well as the home-court advantage and the better coach. The question becomes whether or not the perimeter play of Weiskamp and Bohannon can carry the Hawkeyes to cover. Right now, the answer is no. Iowa should win the game, but 6.5 is too many points against a team that has two players such as Kalscheur and Willis shooting the way they are, as the duo is a combined 40 percent from three in their last four games. Iowa should win the game, Minnesota will cover, and, since neither team is a defensive juggernaut, take the over.