Northwestern (7-8, 0-2 Big Ten) will look to end its three-game losing streak and pick up its first conference victory at No. 20 Iowa (12-3, 1-1) on Thursday night.
Iowa defeated Nebraska in its Big Ten opener but lost a close game at undefeated Wisconsin over the weekend.
The Hawkeyes are unbeaten at home with a 9-0 record.
Iowa enters Thursday’s game ranked No. 13 in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings. The Hawkeyes are known for their potent offense and fast pace, but their defensive has also been very efficient, ranking No. 17 in the nation.
KenPom predicts a 17-point victory for Iowa, but the Hawkeyes will be at a major disadvantage Thursday.
Head coach Fran McCaffery is suspended for the game against Northwestern after a second-half outburst against Wisconsin let to his ejection in Madison. (Ironically, Thursday was supposed to be Fran McCaffery Bobblehead Night.)
Still, Iowa has the personnel to handle Northwestern with relative ease at home.
Senior Roy Devyn Marble is one of the best all-around players in the Big Ten, averaging 16.1 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.1 steals.
Sophomore Mike Gesell joins him in the backcourt with 6.4 points and 3.6 dimes per game.
Where the Hawkeyes’ will have their biggest advantage Thursday is in the frontcourt.
Northwestern’s front line is lacking with 7-foot sophomore Alex Olah serving as the only true big man.
6’8″ freshman Nate Taphorn is competent defensively down low, but he struggles to score from two-point range. He has made only four shots inside the arc this season, compared to 12 from beyond it.
Iowa has a deep front line with Aaron White, Jarrod Uthoff, Adam Woodbury, Gabriel Olaseni, and Zach McCabe leading the way. White and Uthoff have been the Hawkeyes’ most efficient players on the offensive end, both ranking in the nation’s top 100 in offensive rating.
White averages 13.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and two assists while Uthoff, a Wisconsin transfer, averages 10.5 points and 6.3 boards. Though he does not shoot often, Uthoff is still a threat from deep at 10-of-19 on the season.
Woodbury plays only 16.3 minutes per game, but he has started all 15 contests. In limited time, he contributes 5.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game.
Olaseni comes off the bench and leads the team with 1.7 blocks per game.
Thursday’s tip is slated for 8 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised on ESPNU.