After losing at home to Michigan State and Ohio State earlier in Big Ten play, Iowa was anxious to get a home Big Ten win over a ranked opponent. The Hawkeyes jumped all over their latest opportunity on Saturday as No. 17 Iowa (18-6, 7-4) ran past No. 10 Michigan (17-6, 9-2) 85-67.
Roy Devyn Marble (26 points) knocked in six first-half three-pointers for the Hawkeyes, who soundly outplayed Michigan for the entire game. Because of Iowa’s depth, length, athleticism and experience, the Hawkeyes are a tough out when they’re focused and on Saturday, Iowa really came to play.
The Hawkeye defense thwarted Michigan’s attempts to run backdoor cuts and the Wolverine offense often settled for isolation sets and contested perimeter jumpers. Offensively, Iowa rode the hot shooting of Marble and a balanced scoring effort that included the Hawkeyes destroying the offensive glass for 15 rebounds.
Mike Gesell leads the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio and as long as Marble or junior Aaron White is rolling, Iowa will have their role players contribute something as well. The Hawkeyes are one of the few teams in the country that is legitimately 10 deep and that affords them the luxury of mixing and matching lineups to find a lineup that is performing.
In a tournament setting, this could prove to be invaluable. As long as Marble or White scores, Iowa will have the depth to match up with nearly anyone in the NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes have split with Ohio State and split with Michigan now and they still have a return trip to Michigan State looming on March 6th.
Iowa could make a run right now, but they’ve alternated wins and losses in its last seven games and they need to maintain consistency.
Which Iowa team will we see down the stretch?
It might depend on the aggressiveness of Marble and White. Although Marble had 26 points against Michigan, 22 of them came in the first half. Marble has had other games where he’s been held without a field goal in the first half as well. It’s not a huge issue, but it speaks to Marble’s ability to stay aggressive and focused for 40 minutes.
White is also seeing his game go in spurts during Big Ten play as he’ll occasionally spend too much time floating on the perimeter.
If Iowa wants to beat the big dogs and make a March run, they need Marble to step up and be a consistent scoring threat for 40 minutes.