The Wolverines are headed towards a #1 seed as they enter the February 25th Iowa at Michigan matchup. UM is on a roll with five straight wins, with victories in three straight following a long COVID layoff. Juwan Howard’s team has five games left in the regular season, with arguably their biggest test coming Thursday against the #9 Hawkeyes.
It’s been a great year for Iowa, and they seem to be back on track with four straight wins. The Hawkeyes had lost 4 of 5 prior, but that’s going to happen in this rough and tugged Big 10. It’s young vs. old as Senior player-of-the-year candidate Luka Garza gets set to battle Michigan’s impressive 7-footer Hunter Dickinson. The Wolverines are a 5-point favorite in the first and only meeting between the teams this season.
Can Garza Lead the Hawkeyes?
You expect some bumps in the road during this COVID season, especially in the absolute gauntlet that is the Big 10. Iowa had their speedbumps in losing 4 of 5, but two of those came against an unpredictable Indiana squad and the other two were against #4 Ohio State and #5 Illinois.
It’s not like the February 25th Iowa at Michigan game will be a walk in the park for either team, but rumors of the Hawkeyes demise seem to be overly exaggerated. The Hawkeyes are healthy, and all four of their recent wins have coincided with CJ Fredrick being back in the lineup.
And then there’s Garza. The big man can all but cement his POY candidacy with a huge outing vs. Michigan, and the upstart freshman Dickinson. Garza has powered through his ‘lull’ of three of four games scoring less than 20 points to put up 30/8 and 23/11 the last two. Fredrick had 18 in the win over Penn State on Sunday and Joe Weiskamp has a dozen plus in 5 of the last 6.
Michigan Just Too Great?
The Wolverines faced quite the challenge after a three week layoff due to COVID testing. The Ann Arbor campus was shut down for two weeks, meaning the team couldn’t even practice for a majority of that time. UM has battled through though, and actually looks more invigorated after the break.
Michigan proved themselves two Sundays ago, falling behind by 12 at the half in Wisconsin in their first game back before shaking out the cobwebs and going on a 40-20 run in the 2nd half. After the 67-59 win in Madison as +1 underdogs, Michigan has beaten Rutgers 71-64 (-9) and got a huge 92-87 win over #4 Ohio State on Sunday as -1.5 road favorites.
Dickinson led the win over Ohio State by dumping in 22 points. Some freshman fade this time of year, but the Michigan youngster is playing his best ball with double digit scoring in the last three. What makes the Wolverines is their role players though, as on any given night Franz Wagner (20 vs. Rutgers), Eli Brooks (17 vs. Ohio State), or Isaiah Livers (20 vs. Wisconsin) can have a big outing. To call them role players is almost an insult.
Free February 25th Iowa at Michigan Pick
Public betting has pushed this game to Michigan -5, up from a -3.5 open. The Wolverines have looked good, but also still ‘only’ beat Rutgers by 7 at home. It wouldn’t be a stretch to see Iowa cover, or even win outright in this one. When you’ve got Garza and also a Michigan team that put up 90+ on Ohio State you’re looking at points though.
The last two games between these two have been a 103-91 Michigan win in 2019 and a 90-83 Iowa victory in 2020. Points, points, points.
Iowa 86 – Michigan 90
Free Pick: Over 155.5