Three Key Questions for Ohio State at IowaPosted by Jonathan Batuello on February 4th, 2014
A month ago, Ohio State at Iowa seemed like a potential game for first place in the Big Ten. Instead we are now looking at a Buckeyes team hoping to just get back to .500 in conference play and a Hawkeyes group at 6-3 hoping to stay on the heels of the conference leaders. For both teams, though, this game could have a big impact on its potential NCAA seed next month, so plenty is still at stake this evening. With that in mind, here are three key questions heading into tonight’s game.
- Can Ohio State limit Iowa on the interior? It is no secret that the Buckeyes’ interior, and specifically Amir Williams, has been a big reason for their recent downswing. The offense has been an issue all season long, but during their recent losing streak the Buckeyes were getting dominated inside the paint. Iowa has plenty of strong interior and wing players itself and should control the inside by routinely going inside to Aaron White and Jarrod Uthoff. The Hawkeyes’ rebounding ability (fourth in Big Ten in defensive rebounding percentage and second in offensive rebounding percentage) is likely to limit the Buckeyes to one shot and should create some second-chance points for themselves.
- How much does Ohio State have to win the turnover battle to have a chance? Almost every statistical category in conference play puts the Hawkeyes ahead of the Buckeyes — except the notable exceptions of turnover margin and adjusted defensive efficiency. This means setting the pace and playing smart with the ball are extremely important for Ohio State to have a chance to win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Ohio State will likely need to create 10 or more turnovers while limiting itself significantly below that number to make up for its other deficiencies. The Buckeyes really need to limit possessions and take advantage of their easy opportunities, and if the turnover margin is close to being equal, Iowa likely will win running away.
- Will Ohio State’s offense score enough to keep up with Iowa? Iowa has the top scoring offense in the Big Ten and the seventh-best adjusted offense in the nation. Ohio State’s offense ranks ninth in the conference and 120th overall. The odds that the Buckeyes can keep up with the Hawkeyes through scoring chances alone is extremely small. If this game becomes a fast-paced affair in the 70s or higher, Iowa has a huge advantage. But if the Buckeyes can slow the pace down and play the game in the 50s or 60s (they logged 62 and 59 points in their last two wins), then players like LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith should be able to score enough to have a chance at the upset.