The No. 22 Michigan Wolverines (20-7, 9-5 Big Ten) are hosting the Iowa Hawkeyes (12-15, 3-11) on Wednesday night. The Wolverines are coming off a hot shooting game in Madison and are ready to take Crisler by a storm in their second to last home game of the season. The Hawkeyes are coming in with a three game losing streak and facing their third ranked opponent in a row. It’s all going down in Ann Arbor or on BTN at 6:30 pm on February 14th.

Iowa’s Season Struggles

The Iowa Hawkeyes were handed a 82-64 loss this past Saturday after visiting the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus. The loss dropped them to 11th in the Big Ten with a 3-11 mark in conference action. Now facing a 1-8 record on the road, the Hawkeyes are preparing to travel to Ann Arbor in their second to last road game of the season.

Over the course of the season, Iowa has averaged 80.1 points per game and has shot 47.8 percent from the field, but has still been unable to post big wins. This comes from a disconnect from their offensive and defensive possessions. They rank last among Big Ten teams in points allowed per game by letting their opponents score on average 78.5 points. With a turnover rate at an average of 13.1 per game, part of Iowa’s season long struggles have stemmed from a lagging defense. With four games remaining in the regular season and no upsets over an AP Top-25 team, the Hawkeyes will have an uphill battle against the Wolverines.

Home Sweet Crisler

The Wolverines return home after being on the road their last two games. Michigan went into Wisconsin with red hot shooting and capped the game off with 83-72 win. With their groove found in their last game against the Badgers combined with their stellar home court record of 13-1, the Maize and Blue are looking to keep the good times rolling at home on Wednesday night.

The Wolverines need their leading scorer, Moritz Wagner (14.6 points per game), to get shots early to build momentum from the get go. If the opportunities are scarce with Wagner, Charles Matthews (13.9) could be the go to for scoring chances inside. Combined with them after an impressive run last game scoring 16 points and going 4 of 7 from three, senior Duncan Robinson can help provide the Wolverines with scoring opportunities to capitalize on Iowa’s faulty defense if he can get shots to fall.

Maintaining their own defense will help shut down Iowa’s offensive strengths. Michigan will have to out rebound the Hawkeyes to ensure that Iowa has few chances to drive up the score. With a strong defensive performance from the Wolverines and a turnover rate ranked number one in the Big Ten, the Maize and Blue will have a chance to beat Iowa for the second time this season. During their last meeting on Jan. 2, the Wolverines shot 44 percent from three in comparison to their season average 36.4 percent. From the field, they were 49.1 percent to their season average 47.4 percent. If Michigan were to perform above their season average in shooting against Iowa for the second time this season, they could hold serve at home and keep the Wolverines’ NCAA Tournament resume in good standing. The Wolverines have to lay everything on the line for their tournament hopes and their performance in their last four games is crucial for gaining the recognition they need from the committee before Selection Sunday.

Prediction

Michigan’s home advantage will hold true. They’ll soar past Iowa 76-67.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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