Penn State vs. Iowa Preview
ComRadio's own Dave Arroyo, Tom Shively and Joe Murphy preview this week's Big Ten matchup between Penn State and Iowa.
Coming off of a close but disappointing loss to the Michigan Wolverines, the Nittany Lions look to redeem themselves and end their three-game losing streak on the road against the Iowa Hawkeyes this Wednesday night.
With two games against Iowa looming in the immediate future, Penn State has a tall task before them. Iowa (17-4) is ranked nationally at number five and second within the Big Ten (8-1), while Penn State (11-11) finds themselves at the bottom of the barrel within the conference (2-7).
Although this is the first matchup of the 2015-2016 season, the Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions have a history of close games, as nine of the last 12 meetings were determined by single-digit deficits. While the Nittany Lions have won seven of the last 10 meetings, they have failed to achieve a victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena since March 1, 2001 with a 78-73 advantage.
On both sides of the ball, Iowa is a dominating and formidable opponent. Before last week’s 74-68 loss to Maryland, they were undefeated in the conference and on a hot streak amongst the league. As a team their offensive output shines bright with 81.2 points and 9.0 three-pointers per game with a field-goal percentage of 46.6. Jarrod Utoff, filling the almost-impossible shoes of Aaron White, heads the offense with an average of 18.6 points, which has greatly improved from last season’s (12.4 ppg). In addition to Utoff, Penn State will have its hands full with Mike Gesell, Iowa’s leading point guard. He has been a force on both sides of the balls with 3.6 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 9.0 points per game.
The Nittany Lions have little room for error against the surprising success of the Hawkeye’s men’s basketball team. Although their offense headed by the likes of Brandon Taylor (16.3 ppg) and Shep Garner (13.9ppg) is an integral asset to the game plan, the Blue and White will also find the key to disrupting the Wolverine’s game plan through keying in on defensive strategy. Reviewing their last lost against the Maryland Terappins, the Wolverines were rattled by the Maryland’s grind and pound defense. Jarod Uthoff finished with only nine points, while the team overall had 11 turnovers and went 5-24 from three-point range.
In order for victory Donovan Jack, Jordan Dickerson, and Shep Garner need to show up against Maryland’s offense. Jack and Dickerson find themselves amongst the overall Penn State Top 10 in the blocks category at number eight. They also share qualifications for single-season blocks with 53 throughout Penn State’s history. Garner is influential to the game plan because of his role in the matchup against Iowa last season. He posted 17 points in their meeting before tournament play at the Bryce Jordan Center. Overall, Penn State has 4.9 steals, 4.4 blocks, and allow 69 opponent points per game, as opposed to Iowa’s 7.2 steals, 5.7 blocks, and 68.4 opponent points per game.
In previous games this season, the Nittany Lions have remained contenders against powerhouse teams, the Terrapins (70-64) and Wolverines (79-72). While the Hawkeyes have surprised many for their play this season, perhaps the Nittany Lions can steal their thunder and deliver a big upset for the Blue and White faithful.
Penn State will take the road this Wednesday to face-off against the Hawkeyes at 7:00 p.m. at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
Madeleine Balestrier is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.