Well now that the 2016 football season is officially over (thank God) we can now pay our full attention to Irish hoops. Notre Dame is 6-0 and coming off a successful Thanksgiving week where they went 3-0 and took home the Legends Classic Championship. Now their focus will turn to the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Irish will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes, who are becoming a somewhat familiar opponent. Tuesday will mark the third time in the last four seasons that Notre Dame has played Iowa. The two schools split the previous two matchups. The Irish came away victorious last season in a consolation game of the Advocare Invitational, while Iowa beat the Irish in the 2013 ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Iowa City.
When: Tuesday, November 29, 2016, 9:00pm ET
Where: Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center
Where to Watch: ESPN2 or WatchESPN
Iowa Hawkeyes (3-3)
The Hawkeyes spent most of last season ranked in the top 10 before crumbling down the stretch and falling to the eventual National Champ, Villanova, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately for Iowa, they lost many key pieces from last year’s team including Jerrod Uthoff. Iowa is expected to struggle this season as 11 of the 15 players on roster are underclassmen. They were picked to finish 10th in the Big Ten this season.
Iowa is coming off a rough Thanksgiving break where they lost a tough one to Memphis and were also blown out by 33 by No.7 Virginia in the Emerald Coast Classic. It won’t get any easier for the Hawkeyes when they travel to South Bend on Tuesday to take on a red-hot Notre Dame team.
- Opponent points per game: Through six game Iowa has had trouble limiting opponents points. They’re ranked 299th in opponents points per game; giving up just under 82 points per game. Notre Dame is averaging 85 points per game.
- Turnovers: The Hawkeyes are one of the worst teams in the country at taking care of the ball. They are turning the ball almost 17 times a game, which ranks 324th out of 351 Division I teams. The Irish force around 16 turnovers per game.
- Opponent Three Point Shooting: Iowa has had a lot trouble defending the three point shot this year. Opponents are shooting almost 42% against the Hawkeyes this season. That is good for 320th in the country. Notre Dame shoots 40% from three, which is 32nd in the NCAA.
- Scoring: Iowa is one of the best scoring teams in the country. They’re scoring 86.3 points per game, 14th in the nation. If the Hawkeyes want a shot of pulling the upset, they’ll have to make this a track meet.
- Defensive Rebounding: Iowa ranks 35th in defensive rebounding. The pull down 27.3 rebounds per game. Notre Dame has trouble rebounding, but specifically on the offensive glass. Iowa should have an advantage here.
- Assists: They may be young, but they know how to share the ball. Iowa dishes out 18.7 per game, that ranks 14th in the nation.
Hawkeyes to Watch
Peter Jok - 6’6”, Guard, Senior
Jok is without a doubt the leader of this group. He was the second leading scorer on last year’s club, and now returns as the leading scoring. He’s is the nation’s third leading scorer as he’s averaging 25.3 points per game. He’s shooting 53% from the floor, and what makes that even more impressive is that he’s taking over 16 shots per game. He’s also shooting 45% from beyond the arc. Notre Dame will have their hands full with Jok.
Tyler Cook - 6’8”, Forward, Freshman
Cook, a four-star recruit from St. Louis, has stepped in and produced right away. He’s second on the team in scoring and rebounding with 13.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He does struggle at taking care of the ball. He turns the ball over three times per game. The matchup between Cook and Bonzie Colson will be one to keep your eye on.
Pick to Click
Matt Farrell - 6’1”, Guard, Junior
Farrell shined in the Legends Classic, as he averaged 19 points, 6 assists and was named the tournament MVP. I like Farrell in this matchup against a group of younger guards. He often gets overlooked with the likes of Colson, V.J. Beachem, and Steve Vasturia on the roster, but so far he’s been just as good as any of them. He’s been running the Irish offense at an elite level and has led Notre Dame to the best turnover/assist ratio in the country. Look for Farrell to have another big game Tuesday night.
Notre Dame 86 - Iowa 70
Notre Dame’s offense gets all publicity and for good reason, but their defense is also very good and doesn’t get the attention it deserves. They are giving up just 61 points per game and are 32nd in defensive effciency. Notre Dame’s defense will be the deciding factor in this game. We know both teams are great offensively, but only Notre Dame plays any type of defense.
Iowa can keep it close for a half, but the Hawkeyes don’t take care of the ball and they don’t play defense. That isn’t exactly a recipe for pulling off an upset on the road. Beachem, Vasturia and Matt Ryan will have great shooting nights against Iowa’s shoddy three-point defense. Look for Notre Dame to pull away in the second half and get a W for the ACC.