#12 Indiana (23-6, 13-3) at #16 Iowa (20-8, 11-5)
When: Tuesday, March 1st 2016
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, IA
Time: 9:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The Indiana Hoosiers look to clinch the Big Ten regular season title and sweep the season series with struggling Iowa on Tuesday night. The Hoosiers clinched a share of the league championship after their easy 74-47 win at Illinois on Thursday. Leading scorer Yogi Ferrell led all scorers with 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting and also pitched in five assists and five rebounds. Ferrell leads the Hoosiers in scoring (17.3) and assists (5.5) and he needs just two more assists to join Illinois’ Dee Brown (2002-06) as the only players in Big Ten history with at least 1,800 points, 600 assists and 400 rebounds. Thursday’s victory was Indiana’s third in a row after a 19-point loss at Michigan State. The Hoosier’s are still shooting over 50% for the season and are ranked third in the nation in that category and fifth in three-point percentage (41.7). Forward Troy Williams, who averages 12.6 points and six rebounds, suffered a thigh bruise during Thursday’s rout and is probable to play. Indiana has won five of the past seven meetings including an 85-78 win on February 11th in Bloomington. In that game, Indiana’s bench outscored Iowa’s 28-0.
Iowa was rolling until that Indiana game and have lost four of the last five games overall to fall in a second place tie in the conference with three other teams (Michigan State, Maryland, Wisconsin). Iowa’s late-season fade continued with a 68-64 road loss to Ohio State on Sunday and coach Fran McCaffery departed his postgame press conference after 82 seconds and in mid-question. The Hawkeyes’ lone win in the past five games came against 13th-place Minnesota on Valentine’s Day 75-71. Iowa is averaging just 61.5 points in their last two games – more than 17 below their average. Senior forward Jarrod Uthoff leads the team in scoring (18.5) and blocked shots (76), and junior guard Peter Jok (16.3) is also faring well but they are the only two players scoring in double digits. Iowa’s lack of depth is catching up to them as they approach the tournament. With two tough games left (Indiana, Maryland), the Hawkeyes could drop as far as the 8th seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.
I have to go with the hotter team in this one even though I believe this will be a very close game. Indiana is getting points and they have already proved they can beat this struggling Iowa team.
Pick: Indiana +4