i want to play video games with him [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Hoops Preview: 2018-19 Iowa Comment Count

Brian January 31st, 2019 at 3:25 PM


WHAT #5 Michigan (20-1) vs
#30 Iowa (16-5)
WHERE Carver-Hawkeye Arena
Iowa City, IA
WHEN 7 PM Friday
LINE Michigan -4, 64% to win (Kenpom)
Michigan –4.1, 66% to win (Torvik)


Michigan fell behind early but then gradually blew out Ohio State, leaving the entire Wesson family in a state of disarray. Mad online and off, they are. If they ever figure out how to stand up for five minutes at a time certain Michigan students are going to be in for it, let me tell you. Just let me get up out of this oiled bathtub… rats. Well, next time! Next time you're certainly in for it.

Now. The Any Big Ten Road Game Center, we meet again. This particular Road Game Center has been unkind indeed. Carver-Hawkeye has been the location of three or four of the more frustrating Michigan games over the past half-dozen years, and this weird, big, goofy team has the potential to deliver another.

Also, Fran! Hooray for Fran, the only coach in basketball whose sideline demeanor is precisely that of a superfan with insane refereeing conspiracy theories! My man. Never ever change or get fired.


Click for big.

Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
G 3 Jordan Bohannon Jr. 6'1, 185 74 18 116 No
SG miscast as PG. Not Just A Shooter (20 A rate, 40 FT rate) but should be: just 34% inside line. 38% from deep.
G 4 Isaiah Moss Jr. 6'5, 208 59 20 117 No
Rangy SG has been unconscious from 3 (51%) in B10 play. Solid A:TO ratio, okay (44%) inside line with relatively few FTs.
G 10 Joe Wieskamp Fr. 6'6, 205 65 18 120 No
Composite #60 FR having better season than Romeo Langford. 57/43 shooting, healthy FT rate, reasonably light on TOs. Bad in midrange if you can get him shooting from there.
F 25 Tyler Cook Jr. 6'9, 250 71 27 110 Yes
Second in B10 Count Dunkula standings, majority of usage at rim where he hits 73%.  Meh midrange, again if you can get him there. OREB threat, TOs a slight issue, good at finding teammates.
C 55 Luka Garza So. 6'11, 245 51 25 121 No
Eyebrows Moe Wagner except he doesn't drive from the perimeter and threes are a relative rarity. Very skilled. Awful defensively.
G 30 Connor McCaffery Fr. 6'5, 205 47 17 116 Yes
Composite #152 FR has top 150 A rate and absurd FT rate (116!!!) build mostly on cupcakes. B10 ORTG: 90. Shooting 7/31 from floor in conference play.
G 1 Maishe Dailey Jr. 6'7 200 35 13 96 Yes
38% 3P shooter last year, 21% this year; 2/3rds of shots from behind arc.
F 51 Nicholas Baer Sr. 6'7, 218 49 17 117 No
Unkillable Methuselah ranks nationally in OREB, DREB, TO rate, Blk%, Stl%, and 3P%. Shooting 54/38 with good FT rate but only 64% at line. Would be 30 MPG starter on most B10 teams.
F 15 Ryan Kriener Jr. 6'9 255 33 20 109 No
Three level scorer shooting 61/37. TOs an issue. Also bad defensively.

[hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]


War. War never changes. Also never changing: Iowa. A bunch of giant goobers? Check. Goobers far more skilled than one would assume? Check. One ridiculous dunk-monster? Check. No point guard? Check. Garbage defense? Check. Nicholas Baer? He's been in Iowa City since 1985 and has no plan to stop, check.

Your author generally roots for Iowa basketball when it does not play Michigan because I love the incongruity of all these guys who got stretched out by tractors in their youth playing relentlessly beautiful offensive basketball. I also like Fran McCaffrey's volcanic referee temper tantrums, which have a white-hot purity. So your author says things like "Iowa's really going to do it this year!" on a near-annual basis despite Iowa having not, in fact, ever "done it" in McCaffrey's nine-year tenure. McCaffrey's best B10 season is 12-6; his best seed is a seven; his best NCAA finish is in the second round.


this post mentions both Bielfeldt and White so here you go [Eric Upchurch]

The main reason for this is that his teams usually cannot D up. McCaffrey's had some decent defenses in his tenure but his recent history has been abject. For comparison's sake, John Beilein's worst-ever Michigan defense* was the 2015 team, which featured Max Bielfeldt and freshman versions of Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal at center, plus 30 MPG of Spike Albrecht and no Walton/LeVert after midseason. That crippled/short/awful unit finished 100th nationally.

*[aside from the Year Zero team]

Iowa's collection of very large men the last three years: 123rd, 242nd(!!!), 124th. This crew is both a vast improvement on last year's collection of paper cutouts and worse than a team choosing between a leprechaun, a narcoleptic, and Mark Donnal at center. I don't get it, but at least they've given in and play a really long 2-3 zone some of the time.

But that offense: it's 10th nationally and has eight different guys with at least 17% usage and an ORTG of 109+. It's the Iowa version of 2013-14 Michigan, which was so tough to stop because the only guys who didn't shoot threes were Mitch McGary and the senior version Jordan Morgan that shot 70% from the floor. Michigan's non-lethal defenders are going to get a stiffer test than they usually do. There are almost no easy outs here.

But as usual, neither are there any point guards. Jordan Bohannon guards the position on defense because he's the only guy shorter than 6'5" who plays, but he's a bit miscast in the role. He's coping fine because basically everyone Iowa puts on the floor can create shots, and he's hitting a high volume of threes at 38%.

When he ventures inside the line there are two outcomes: free throws, which he gets a fair number of and hits at 86%, and garbage. Bohannon drives to get to the rim, where about two thirds of his twos come from… and then hits 38% once there. I don't think I've ever seen someone hit the same percentage from three and at the rim.

Bohannon will rise up for unassisted threes, FWIW.


Moss demonstrating a small facet of why Iowa no good can D [Campredon]

The rest of the team is all wing-sized but a couple of guys are guards, at least in terms of playstyle. Isaiah Moss was reasonably efficient last year and has ignited this year on the strength of 46% three point shooting that's only gotten better as the competition level has risen. He's also capable of driving and dishing; like Bohannon his percentage at the rim (46%) is grim. He will come off curls and the like for midrange stuff he cans at a decent clip, and he is another dead-eye FT shooter. Inside the line is much preferable all the same.

Freshman Joe Wieskamp is Iowa Romeo Langford: local high school legend stays home to fervent expectations. One of the most on-brand Iowa things I've ever seen was a Journey segment on Wieskamp after Iowa's loss to MSU at Carver-Hawkeye in which Wieskamp misses a three and his dad frustratedly exclaims "GOD BLESS IT." Wieskamp is so Iowa he sweats corn.

Unlike Langford, Wieskamp can shoot. Half his shots are threes he hits at a 43% clip and most of the rest of his usage is going to the rim, where he converts at a 69% rate and gets fouled a fair bit. Like everyone else he tops out as a meh defender and he's an Iggy-like black hole with a 7 assist rate, but if you'd rather have Langford than Wieskamp you're an NBA team or incorrect.

The frontcourt contains Iowa's God-ordained bouncy non-shooting dunk magnet. Tyler Cook isn't quite as absurdly efficient as Aaron White was but subtract White's late career emergence as a decent three point shooter and you could do worse with a player comparison. Cook gets almost two thirds of his shots at the rim, creates half of those, and converts at a 73% rate. He's hammered home a dunk more than anyone in the league not named Bruno Fernando.

Cook gets fouled a ton and hits FTs at a 69% clip; he's not too bad away from the basket and is hitting 59% from two. He does have a 22 TO rate, and that's the main thing separating his efficiency (109 ORTG) from White's miraculous 128 a few years back.

Weirdly, though, Cook's presence or absence does absolutely nothing to Iowa.


This says more about Iowa's main bench options, which are excellent, and defensive structure, which not so much, than Cook. But that's something.

The final starter, center Luka Garza, is a lot like Moe Wagner. Garza is thicker and more of a post threat. Both guys are skilled shooters and advanced ball-handlers with low TO rates. Also both are major liabilities on defense. Despite standing 6'11" Garza provides next to no rim protection and has a Wagner-esque 2.6 block rate.

Bigs are crushing him. Minnesota bigs (Curry, Stockman, Murphy) went 12 of 16 from two in Iowa's most recent outing; MSU's Tillman/Ward combination went 9/12; Illinois unearthed a person named Samba Kane and he combined with Bezhanishivili to go 7/11; Mike Watkins and John Harrar were 7/7; Dererk Pardon was 3/4; Isaiah Roby was 7/9; Evan Boudreaux and Matt Harms were 8/12. Literally the only game this year where the opposing post players didn't obliterate Garza was Iowa's win against Ohio State, when Kaleb Wesson was limited to 19 minutes with foul trouble and Jaedon LeDee dorfed it.

Garza is awful on defense and Iowa's options aside from him aren't any better. He does score a lot to help make up for it.

Iowa typically runs deep and this year is no exception. The nine man rotation features four bench players getting at least a third of Iowa's minutes:

  • Redshirt freshman Connor McCaffrey is the coach's son and functions as a pass-first point guard despite being a 6'5" guy listed as a small forward by recruiting sites. His 27 assist rate is top 150, but his offensive efficiency was entirely built on getting to the line against meatball teams and he's collapsed in Big 10 play, shooting 7/31 from the field. He's still setting up his teammates frequently but his shooting is a major issue.
  • 6'7" spindle Maishe Dailey is Just A Shooter hitting 21%. He hit 39% last year on decent volume, FWIW.
  • 6'7" unkillable methuselah Nicholas Baer is an excellent, well-rounded offensive threat who would be starting for nearly every other team in the conference. He plays the 3 and 4, hits 38% from three, and chooses good times to attack the rim. He's the only Iowa player to rank in the top 500 in either blocks or steals. He does it differently but he's no dropoff from Cook.
  • 6'9" Ryan Kriener is nominally the backup 5 but often that'll be Cook when Garza goes out. Kriener is not a jumper but is another three-level offensive threat who will hit jumpers from anywhere if given sufficient room.


Iowa's offense is 10th nationally with green everywhere:

  • Shooting at all levels is top-50ish; their combined eFG% is 29th.
  • Their turnover rate is 70th.
  • Their OREB rate is 100th.
  • They get to the line a ton, 5th.
  • They get buckets of assists, 11th nationally.

These have mostly held in conference play but they're only 4th in the league at getting to the line. Iowa is not overly three-dependent; almost everyone can shoot it but they're only slightly above average in 3PA/FGA.

The defense… not so much. They're dead last in league play.

  • Two point defense is in the deep 200s and gets worse, much worse, in league play. Opponents are hitting 56% of their twos in the Big Ten, dead last. Related: they're 12th in block rate.
  • Iowa's about average in forcing TOs and cleaning their own boards, and slightly worse than that in league play.
  • They give up a ton of threes, especially relative to the league. They're 13th as opponents get up 40% of their shots from behind the arc. This is a zone thing, yes, and they're not bad at defending threes.
  • They're dead last in the league in assist rate allowed; two thirds of opponent makes are assisted. This is also partly a zone thing. But also yeesh.

Iowa is a high tempo offense, FWIW.


Teske usage. This game is worrying for Michigan in a few different ways. One is that the most permeable section of Iowa's defense is at center, and Michigan does not post, ever. This hasn't stopped him from putting up double-digit points in five of the last six games but in only one of those was his usage above 17%—that was his 15 points on 12 shot equivalents against Wisconsin. This game gets more tractable the more twos Teske gets up.

Dealing with zone. Ohio State tried to zone Michigan and it didn't quite work out. But the way it didn't quite work out was Jordan Poole hitting a few threes, and if Poole's having an off night it's not hard to see a lot of frustrating offensive possessions where Michigan chunks it around the outside and throws it up more in hope than expectation.

Unlike OSU, Iowa does practice and play 2-3 zone a lot. Unlike OSU, Iowa is a very terrible defense. We'll see how it goes, but please repeat after me: FREE THROW LINE JUMPERS ARE DEATH. Luka Garza's block rate is lower than five different Binghamton Bearcats. If you get it in the middle take two dribbles and go at the basket.

Poole and Iggy on defense. Iowa presents a different challenge than most teams, which have defined scorers and guys who largely sit around. Everybody on Iowa can get after it—only Purdue takes fewer Other Twos—and Iowa's highest-usage guy is pointed right at Brazdeikis. Iowa's better positioned to attack the relative weak points Michigan presents than probably anyone in the league.



Transition. Iowa's actually giving up more transition possessions than they did last year, when they were absurdly bad. They've improved their eFG defense in those situations a bit but this is still a situation where Michigan's applied bursts of transition points could be an important asset.

Meanwhile Iowa is the second-fastest team in league play, a hair's breadth behind Illinois. Michigan suffocated UNC's transition game but struggled for a half against Ayo "Meep Meep" Dosunmu before shutting that avenue down. Iowa doesn't have a drop as steep as Illinois when forced in to the half-court, but it's still significant, and of course Michigan has a hellacious D to back it up.


Michigan by 4.



January 31st, 2019 at 8:36 PM ^

1 - Home court advantage is a real thing, but
2 - Major college basketball teams play a wildly unbalanced home schedule.  6 of those 11 home wins are against teams at 200+ in KenPom.  They're 3-2 at home in the Big Ten.

It's not going to be easy for Michigan to win at Iowa City, but there's no need to start accusing teams of cheating, either.


January 31st, 2019 at 10:39 PM ^

IE Tonight, psu shot 41 free throws Purdue 21

game went to ot, purdue is one game from leading the big, psu has not won a game in the big.

Just saying.

Never said anything about cheating, don't even know how u'd cheat. But, M must take the game before the refs get into it.


January 31st, 2019 at 3:48 PM ^

I felt good heading into this game, given our recent performances against Indiana and Ohio State. After reading the column, I do not feel nearly as confident. I think we still pull it out, but wouldn't be surprised if the game comes down to the wire. Then again, I also think we could thump them. They put up 66, 68, and 67 against Wisconsin and MSU twice. So the better defenses in the league have been able to hold them under 70. That more than anything makes me feel like this will be a 74-69 type game in favor of Michigan.


January 31st, 2019 at 4:09 PM ^

If Michigan averages 1.05 points per possession, as we have been in conference play, that's a recipe for trouble. 

But, of course, Iowa will have a hard time doing that. I'm concerned, too, but part of it is that I cannot easily visualize what Michigan's offense will look like against Iowa's weak defense. I tend to imagine Michigan making futile drives and missing outside shots.

But the evidence suggests that Michigan will perform better offensively than we see against other teams.


January 31st, 2019 at 3:50 PM ^

Poole is the key to this game, if he hits 4 or more threes, I think we win this game comfortably. He will have plenty of opportunities to shoot open 3s. Iggy guarding Cook scares me. Can Matthews guard him and Iggy guard the less scary Wieskamp? A great chance to redeem themselves for the poor performance in Wisconsin. Any road game in the Big Ten always gets the Mitch McGary Plan: just win the game.


January 31st, 2019 at 4:05 PM ^

"I don't think I've ever seen someone hit the same percentage from three and at the rim."

I thought for sure this was Isaiah Washington's time to shine with his 27% at the rim. Nope. 21.7% from three. Bless your heart, Isaiah Washington.

L'Carpetron Do…

January 31st, 2019 at 5:33 PM ^

I live in Iowa now and have watched a lot of Iowa games this year. Here's what they are:

You're hiking in the wilderness one day and you come upon a snake on the side of the path but you can't tell if it's sleeping, unconscious or dead. You have to go around it and continue on your way but how? How do you deal with it? You have to proceed with caution because you don't know what it will do, if anything.

Iowa has the capability to snap up and bite you. Or it could just lay there. Hopefully they'll be Unconscious Snake or Dead Snake tomorrow.

I'm going to the game tomorrow yaaaaayyyyy (please lets make it a comfortable W).


January 31st, 2019 at 7:42 PM ^

Welcome to...the state!  Whereabouts are you (you don't have to say).  You can probably figure this out but I'm 20 minutes north of IC and I'll be at the game as well!

I'm honestly a little fearful going into this because I think we're may have an off night against some weird zone defense and Cook and Garza will likely get theirs all night to keep close.  Hopefully Teske can stay on the court but that is part of my fear, he gets benched with shitty fouls and we try to ride it out.  I'd like to see a repeat of last year where we run them the hell out of the gym for 36 minutes (before they tried to claw their way back and make the score seem respectable).


February 1st, 2019 at 8:05 AM ^

META Is there a reason the hoops previews seem to be going up much earlier this year? I know for weekend games they always go up on Friday afternoon, I assume to get more readers while they're at work bored and counting down the final hours until they can go home. But now for this one, and other weekday games, when it goes up the day before I just skim the date/time and line, and then mentally say "I'll read that tomorrow before the game", but then I forget because it's been buried already...

Inertia Policeman

February 1st, 2019 at 11:23 AM ^

Bizarre side story - the referee in the picture with Fran is Kelly Pfeifer. He was my middle school cross country coach in Mitchell, SD. It's been really funny to see him officiating B1G basketball games after knowing him in that setting.