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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Rd 1 matchup #8 Iowa vs #9 Minnesota

Since I don't know how to put a bracket on the page without it looking all screwy, I'll do the best I can to describe the bracket.  To prevent it getting lost in the other written material, my next post will simply be a list of each team's seed.

IOWA (8) Pts RB Asst Stls Fg% 3pt% FT%
G Andre Wooldridge 15.7 2.8 6.0 1.4 0.467 0.389 0.751
G Adam Haluska 16.1 4.4 2.2 1.2 0.430 0.366 0.846
G Jeff Horner 12.2 4.6 5.0 1.3 0.391 0.367 0.792
F Greg Brunner 11.9 7.8 1.7 0.9 0.503 0.304 0.650
F Reggie Evans 15.3 11.5 1.4 1.2 0.485 0.500 0.625
B: G Dean Oliver 12.4 2.9 4.5 1.6 0.384 0.346 0.753
G/F Ricky Davis 15.0 4.8 2.4 1.2 0.466 0.308 0.698
F Ryan Bowen 9.1 6.7 1.4 2.2 0.575 0.382 0.673

Woolridge: In 1997 became the first player in Big Ten history to lead the conference in points and assists.  What more can I say? Honors: 1st team All Big Ten 1996, 1997
Haluska: A deceivingly good Iowa career.  Absolute burner and money from the line.  Defenders just couldn't stay in front of him and he made them pay. Honors: 1st team All Big Ten 2007
Horner: Level-headed, fundamentally sound guard who started all four years.  Not a great shooter but looked to get everyone else involved.  Another solid FT shooter.  Honors: Big Ten Tournament MVP 2006
Brunner: Solid, but unspectacular big man who had a little range on his shot.  For someone who shot as well as he did, I was always a bit surprised that his FT% wasn't better.  Honors: 1st team All Big Ten 2006
Evans: This JUCO transfer wreaked havoc in the Big Ten for two year.  An absolute rebounding machine, Evans was not a good shooter but instead a fearsome competitor that dared opponents to come into the lane.  Honors: Ben Ten Tournament MVP 2001
Bench: Dean Oliver is another quick guard Iowa can throw at you.  Ricky Davis was an offensive force who was so indifferent about defense he went to the NBA after one year, and big man Ryan Bowen was given 1st team honors in 1998 for his stellar season.

Strengths:  Guard play, rebounding, experience.  
Iowa's guards are not so unique in themselves as to what they bring as a unit.  Haluska is the big guard that can fly to the hoop, Horner the quarterback of the offense who controls the tempo and Wooldridge is a blend of the two.  Ricky Davis coming off the bench is a nice touch.
With six of the guys playing at least 3 seasons in Iowa City and Dr. Tom on the pine, this team's experience cannot be discounted.  Additionally, the Hawkeyes are running out two tournament MVPs ensuring that an under-prepared team will suffer the consequences.

Weaknesses:  Size, offensive imbalance
Iowa's biggest strength--work ethic--is offset by its biggest weakness regarding the physical limitations exposed by playing squads stocked with NBA lottery picks (the tallest guy on this team is 6'8" Reggie Evans).  Scoring in the post is already difficult enough but none of the post players on this team are go-to guys.  The Hawkeyes attempt to shroud this disadvantage with quality in Evans, Brunner, and the hard-working Bowen.  One of them, most likely Brunner, will have to step up to take some of the offensive responsibilities off the guards.

Minnesota (9) Pts RB Asst Stls Fg% 3pt% FT%
G Bobby Jackson 15.3 6.1 4.0 2.1 0.441 0.320 0.786
G Sam Jacobson 13.1 4.8 1.7 1.1 0.439 0.359 0.700
G Quincy Lewis 14.6 4.6 1.6 1.7 0.461 0.338 0.729
F Kris Humphries 21.7 10.1 0.7 0.9 0.444 0.340 0.742
F Rick Rickert 14.9   5.7   1.3   0.7   0.469 0.361 0.692
B: G Vincent Grier 13.0 5.0 2.1 1.8 0.460 0.240 0.705
C Joel Przybilla 9.9 6.9 1.9 0.7 0.591 0.000 0.521
F Dusty Rychart 11.4 6.6 1.5 0.8 0.518 0.329 0.774

Jackson: The star of this team lasted two seasons in the Barn before bolting for the NBA.  If Haluska is the fastest guy in the tournament Jackson is right behind.  His exceptional defense is often an afterthought when discussing his strengths but he was truly a great player.  Honors: Big Ten Player of the Year 1997
Jacobson: This guy never won 1st team honors but that may have been due to him being on some very mediocre teams.  Excelled in three point shooting and finished 4th in total scoring in the program's history.
Lewis: Molded from Jacobson.  Better inside shooter, quicker, better defense.  Could even penetrate a little.  Honors: 1st team All Big Ten 1999
Humphries:  In his one season he averaged a double-double.  Incredible.  Always seemed to be stronger than the guy guarding him causing other teams to get in foul-trouble.  Honors: 1st team All Big Ten 2004
Rickert: The 6'11" forward could also shoot from the outside; definitely a match-up problem for other teams.  Honors: 1st team All Big Ten 2003
Bench: Vincent Grier is a solid guard that can help on the boards winning 1st team honors in 2005.  Center Joel Pryzbilla mysteriously bolted for the NBA after two seasons of occassional dominance.  The skill set was there but he wasn't ready.  Dusty Rychart is another F/C tweener that probably won't see a ton of playing time due to the guys in front of him.

Strengths: Size, outside shooting
It's not often a team can say it has each of these as strengths but the Golden Gophers are fortunate.  The guard play can be outstanding with the lightening quick Jackson and sharpshooters Jacobson and Lewis.  One year wonder Kris Humphries brings his amazing double-double average to the tournament and the Gophers exhibit themselves a surplus of size with Rickert, Pryzbilla, and Rycart also manning the paint.

Minnesota will go as far as Humphries can carry them.  Beyond Bobby Jackson the Gophers lack the girth of talent to overtake deeper teams.  Minnesota's lumbering big men will make defending smaller teams loaded with speedy, long-range shooters difficult. Minnesota offenses will wear out the big men possibly leaving them out of gas come crunch time.

What to expect in this game:  A true Big Ten game!  That's right.  Scoring will probably be in the low to mid 60's.  Look for Minnesota to try and increase the tempo any time Jackson can.  Minnesota's bigs will try push Iowa around in an effort to create a mismatch on the boards.  Iowa will patiently run their half-court sets, working their offense to perfection by only taking the perfect shot.  

Matchup to watch: Reggie Evans vs. Kris Humphries.  

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