Since becoming head coach, Mike Woodson is 0-4 against Iowa. In the previous meeting, the Hawkeyes entered Assembly Hall in the last meeting, dominating the Hoosiers, 90-68. Woodson also suffered the infamous defeat to Iowa after Jordan Bohannon’s miraculous game-winner in the 2022 Big Ten Tournament. Iowa has had Indiana’s number for the past two seasons, and the Hoosiers are looking to flip the script.
Indiana comes into the matchup on a three-game losing streak, all losses to ranked opponents. Most recently, they were defeated by #10 Illinois despite a valiant effort on the road. The game was knotted up at 62 with 1:30 to go, but the Hoosiers could not make shots and get the stops they needed to win. The loss was primarily due to Indiana shooting 0-9 from behind the arc and 12-22 from the free-throw line.
Like Indiana, Iowa has had a subpar season up to this point. They share identical records, sitting at 12-8 overall and 4-5 in the Big Ten. Iowa has yet to add a Quad-1 win to their resume, going 0-6 in such games. This record includes two losses to Purdue, a loss to #8 Creighton, and a loss to #21 Wisconsin. They have a 4-0 record in Quad-2 contests, with their best win of the season coming against Seton Hall. The Hawkeyes have home losses to Maryland and Michigan that fall in the Quad-3 category.
Iowa is currently ranked 45th in KenPom, with Indiana at 93rd. Despite their mediocre record, the Hawkeyes have one of the nation’s best offenses. They are averaging 85.3 points in 20 games this season, ranking first in the conference and 10th in the country. Their 110 points against North Dakota on November 7th are the most by any Big Ten team this season.
The Hawkeyes are second in the Big Ten in field goal and free throw percentage, shooting 48.0% and 76.8%, respectively. They are slightly less efficient from behind the arc at 34.8%, which ranks seventh in the conference. Iowa shares the ball exceptionally well on offense. Their 19.0 assists per game are the best in the Big Ten and fifth in the nation. They also lead the country with a 1.87 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Why has Iowa lost so many games despite its high-octane offense? The Hawkeyes’ struggles on the defensive end have been a significant concern since the season began. They surrender 77.4 points per contest, the second-worst in the Big Ten behind Michigan. Iowa is 179th in the nation in defensive efficiency and has given up 90 points in three different games this season.
Fran McCaffery’s squad has a very balanced scoring distribution, with three starters averaging over 14 points per game. Senior forward and Valparaiso transfer Ben Krikke has been a critical addition for Iowa, giving them a team-high 15.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Senior point guard Tony Perkins runs the offense, racking up an average of 15.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per contest. Junior forward Payton Sandfort can heat up at any moment, averaging 14.5 points on 46.5% from the field and 39.3% from three. This past Saturday, he had 26 points and nailed six of eight three-point attempts in Iowa’s win over Michigan.
Mike Woodson knows it won’t be easy to get his first win against Iowa as head coach:
“Very good basketball team,” he said on Monday night. “They post the ball, they push the ball, they press. They play half-court zone, so they do a lot of different things. Things that we’ve seen in the past from other teams, we’ve just got to come out and execute and compete.”
Indiana will need to compete for 40 minutes to come away with a win and return to .500 in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers hope to have seven-foot center Kel’el Ware back after a two-game absence. After no home games for two weeks, Hoosier fans are eager to return to Assembly Hall and cheer their squad to victory.