The no. 11 Iowa Hawkeyes try to remain red hot when they play host to the Penn State Nittany Lions in a Sunday matinee. The Hawkeyes are listed as 11.5-point home favorites, with the over/under set at 157.5 points.
At the moment, the Hawkeyes are riding a three-game winning streak that has helped them snap out of a slump in which they lost four of five games. At 10-5 in Big Ten play, they are two games behind Michigan for the top spot in the conference. However, at 16-6 overall, they are in good shape to grab a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions are one of the few Big Ten teams that aren’t in the running for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. On the heels of three straight losses, Penn State has fallen to 4-10 in conference play and 7-11 overall. However, the Nittany Lions have a chance to improve their seed for the Big Ten Tournament if they can score a few wins late in the regular season.
Mr. Jones and Company
Junior guard Myreon Jones has led the way for Penn State all season, averaging 15.1 points per game. He’s been steady for the Nittany Lions all season, shooting over 40% from the perimeter. Oddly enough, the one game that he struggled with was a game that Penn State beat Maryland despite Jones scoring just two points. However, he averages less than two assists per game, as he doesn’t always do enough to get his teammates involved.
Penn State’s other problem is that the supporting cast behind Jones has been frustratingly inconsistent this season. Sophomore Seth Lundy, who averages over 10 points per game, has been held under 10 points in five of his last six games. If he’s cold from the outside, he doesn’t contribute much to the Nittany Lions. Meanwhile, Izaiah Brockington can also be streaky offensively because he isn’t a good outside shooter despite averaging 13.7 points per game. Often, he needs to be the creative force for Penn State, setting up Jones and others.
The Big Man
There’s no question that everything Iowa does, revolves around Luka Garza, who is likely to be the National Player of the Year. The 6’11’’ big man is fresh off a 30-point performance against Wisconsin during the week and averages 24.7 points per game. Garza is one of the few players who can dominate in the paint while also knocking down perimeter shots. He’s a matchup nightmare for most teams and gives the Hawkeyes a chance to win every game.
Iowa is also one of the most unselfish teams in the country, ranking second nationally in assists at 19.6 per game. The Hawkeyes don’t always look for Garza, as they have six players who average at least seven points per game. As a team, they shoot better than 40% from the three-point range, thanks to players like Joe Wieskamp, Jordan Bohannon, and CJ Fredrick. However, Iowa’s supporting cast is overly reliant on the perimeter shot and can go cold at times, which is why the Hawkeyes have struggled at times during Big Ten play.
The Hawkeyes are hot right now and have a host of capable scorers outside of Garza. The Nittany Lions don’t have enough scorers to keep pace with Iowa, which is one of the highest-scoring teams in the country. Bet on the Hawkeyes to win and cover on Sunday.
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