Their caucus sytem is based on barbeque and violates every tenant of democracy. The inmates (apes) run the asylum (research facility). The 80 acre enclosed rainforest that was supposed to save the state’s economy was a bigger failure than the former state slogan. If pigs gained a few brain cells, Des Moines would look something like London in 28 Days Later. And today, in late breaking news, ethanol may actually be worse for the environment than fossil fuels. At least the basketball team isn’t as bad as they were supposed to be.
Really, the Iowa Hawkeyes aren’t that bad. Of course, back in November things were ugly. After 5 straight wins over teams that aren’t quite good enough for D-II, the losing began, and continued for four straight games culminating with a double overtime loss at home to Louisiana-Monroe. A week later they went 0-Iowa losing to Iowa State and Drake. With the conference season right around the corner, they should have been ready to pack it in right?
Hardly. Todd Lickliter must be Tony Robbins, because with no reason to keep trying, the Hawkeyes actually stayed motivated and have continued to improve. In their first game of the Big Ten season, it was obvious that although the Iowa might not havee a season to remember, it wouldn’t be a season Iowa fans will soon want to foget. In that game, Justin Johnson became youtube famous.[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=zvvG1MZxnhU]
A week and half later, they took winning ugly to a whole new level.[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=kJMEn0n0Ezc]
And just a week ago, they proved their win over Michigan State was not exactly a fluke.[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=Hf0RGj2cPL0]
What looked like an automatic W a few months ago now looks to be another tough test for a Minnesota time struggling with consistency and finding an identity.
Unfortunately for people who like offense and Big Ten fans trying to convince anyone who will listen that there is interesting basketball in the midwest, Iowa’s 43 points against Michigan State were not a fluke. They play slow ball, and make Northwestern look like Tennesee. They have scored less than 50 points (5 times) more than they have scored more than 70 (once, in their loss to Indiana). Even when they do get the ball up the court, they don’t shoot particularly well. But on defense, look out. They rank in the top 50 in the country in about every statistical catagory. A lot of this has to do with their pace of play, but still, you can’t score without the ball. For a team with a new coach and without their top three scorers from a year ago, the Hawkeyes have found a way to win in just about the only way they could.
Despite their low scores and often boring brand of basketball, there have been some quite remarkable offensive explosions for individual Hawkeyes this year. Preventing these should be enough for the Gophers to win, but if someone gets hot, not even the predicted -30 windchill at game time will be enough to cool them down.
Tony Freeman, who missed the first ten games of the regular season with injuries is the primary reason for the Iowa resurgency. He leads the team in scoring, assists and turnovers, but has provided a steadying presense for a team once on the verge of collapse. He scored 28 points in a win over Michigan and has made 4 or more three pointers 4 times, and missed 4 or more 11 times. The Gophers haven’t seen a fearless shooter like this since Chris Kingsbury. Luckily Freeman isn’t the most accurate shooter in the world.
Joining Freeman is the consciousless back court is Justin Johnson of youtube fame. Every one knows about his 8 three pointers against Indiana, but fewer know about his 8 against Ohio State. As Johnson goes, so go the Hawkeyes ( the Michigan State game, at least statistically, shouldn’t count).
In the post the Hawkeyes aren’t much to write home about. Don’t expect Spencer Tollackson to be perfect on either end of the court, but he along with Dan Coleman and Damian Johnson should be able to hold their own. Jarryd Cole leads the Iowa big men in rebounding, but is undersized at 6’7″ and might be wider than he is tall. Kurt Looby is the latest anorexic farm boy to suit up for Iowa, and Seth Gorney is tall, but not particularly skilled.
On paper, the Gophers should win. However, if they don’t control the pace of the game, it will be a long day for the Gophers and everyone who has to sit through the game. Minnesota should do everything they can to get Iowa out of their comfort zone, make some easy lay ups, and avoid the point a minute pace that has knocked off teams that are much better than the Gophers.
This is the last rivalry game that they Gophers have a realistic chance to win, and will be the responsiblty of the senior s to make it happen. I have no idea how ready to play the Gophers will be, or if they will even bother to play hard, but I still think they will win. This team has to get a win they can be proud of at some point, so why not against their southern neighbors.
Prediction: Minnesota 65 – Iowa 55
And the game is on ESPN. You all can watch, and maybe even discuss the game!