The Iowa Hawkeyes will be looking to bounce back from one of the more shocking upsets in college basketball this season tonight against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. We’ll preview the game and then get into which team I’ll be backing.
The Iowa Hawkeyes enter tonight with one of the most high-powered offenses in the country, putting up an offensive efficiency rating of 114.8, which is tenth in the country, according to KenPom. Even with this impressive offense, the Hawkeyes dropped their last game against Eastern Illinois, who is ranked 347th in efficiency margin on KenPom.
This upset brought the Hawkeyes' record to 8-4 on the season, and they will be looking to pick up their first conference win tonight in Nebraska. Iowa will be getting a considerable boost into their fast-paced offense tonight with Kris Murray and Connor McCaffery returning from injury. Murray leads the team with 19.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
Defensively the Hawkeyes will undoubtedly need to step it up on that end of the floor if they want to compete in the Big Ten this season. Iowa allows an average of 70.8 points per game, and opponents have been shooting 44% from the field against them. The Hawkeyes opponent tonight, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, has been quite the opposite this season as they have built their 7-6 record primarily on the defensive end.
Nebraska has put up a defensive efficiency rating of 95.5, which is 60th in the country, according to KenPom. The Cornhuskers have needed to rely on their defense to compensate for the lack of shooting on the offensive end. As a team, the Cornhuskers have managed an effective field goal percentage of 50%, ranked 172nd in the country.
Big man Derrick Walker has led the way for the Cornhuskers, averaging 12.7 points and 7.2 rebounds a game. Walker will need more help from his teammates, especially from three-point land, to keep pace with an Iowa team that ranks 36th in the country in tempo.
Iowa can be found as -4.5 point road favorites, and they are my best bet for this Big Ten showdown. The Hawkeyes can bounce back in a big way tonight, especially with Murray and McCaffery returning to the line-up. Iowa is 17th in the country in field goal attempts per game, and if they can force Nebraska to play at their pace, they will be in control from start to finish.
The Cornhuskers are 119th in the country in turnovers per game, so this increase in tempo could cause Nebraska to have an increase in their turnover percentage. Nebraska is ranked 139th in the country in offensive efficiency on KenPom, and the last two times they played teams that play at a high tempo, they struggled to score.
Iowa will also possess a rebounding advantage in this one, as they are 33rd in the country in both offensive and defensive rebounds per game. If they can keep Derrick Walker off the boards, the Cornhuskers' offense will lose an essential piece of their offense.
Iowa Hawkeyes (-4.5)