It was a jam-packed week in the Big Ten as we transitioned from Feast Week to the ACC/Big Ten challenge. Some teams continued to feast and looked like their usual great selves. Other teams continued to be feasted on and looked like their usual awful selves. Week 3 of the Layup Line is back to break it all down. Let’s get after it.
A: Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok
Great week for Iowa but an even better week for the top-scoring duo in Iowa City. Uthoff is off to a phenomenal start this season as he sits third in the Big Ten in scoring and second in blocks. In three games against Notre Dame, Wichita State and Florida State, the 6’9″ forward averaged 19.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.7 blocks, a steal and 1.7 treys per game, and he currently ranks in the top 50 nationally in block percentage. Simply put, Uthoff gets it done on both ends of the floor and looks to be a surefire First Team All-Big Ten candidate this season. Meanwhile, Jok has never been much of a shooter (37.3% for his career), but he has been Iowa’s go-to-guy thus far (29.2% of possessions used) and it showed on Wednesday night against Florida State. He had a career night, making some big free throws down the stretch and hitting what would be the game-winning three in overtime. He scored eight of Iowa’s 15 points in the last frame to help his conference clinch the ACC/Big Ten challenge. Good work, Peter.
As for Iowa as a whole, there’s absolutely no shame in losing to Dayton and Notre Dame – both of which are likely NCAA Tournament teams – on neutral courts. Iowa is underrated as the 21st best team in the country (per KenPom) – top 30 in both offense and defense – and Iowa State stands as the Hawkeyes’ only true test left before Big Ten play begins. They will look to beef up their record as they make their case for becoming a top-five Big Ten team.
B: Michigan Wolverines
After getting blown out by Xavier and UConn in , the Maize and Blue have started coming together. The Wolverines obliterated Charlotte and Texas in the Bahamas before passing their first true road test with flying colors on Tuesday night. Heading into the game with NC State, the Wolfpack had the clear advantage both in the paint and on the glass. The latter advantage played out as expected, with the Wolfpack grabbing 13 offensive boards in the contest; however, their big men (BeeJay Anya, Lennard Freeman, Abdul-Malik Abu) did virtually nothing offensively and relied heavily on guards Cat Barber and Caleb Martin to carry the load. After NC State cut a 15-point Michigan lead down to four late in the first half, Michigan’s sharpshooters and surprisingly stingy defense took over a hostile environment and never looked back, holding the Wolfpack to 32.8 percent shooting and 21 points below their season average.
Oh, and this kid, Duncan Robinson? He’s a former Division III player shooting 60.6 percent from distance this season, potentially making him the best spot-up shooter in the conference. Very impressive week for his Wolverines.