Basketball Preview: Iowa
Jon Gross, Mitch Stewart and Zach Kaplan look at Penn State's final regular season matchup against the Hawkeyes.
The Big Ten conference is full of mediocre teams on the March Madness bubble with the possibility of having as many as seven or eight teams receiving a tournament bid. However, before that can be decided, all of these teams on the edge of the field must play the final week of the regular season hoping no bubbles are burst.
One of those teams right in the middle of the Big Ten is the Iowa Hawkeyes, who sit eighth in the conference with an 8-8 record. Currently not in Joe Lunardi’s field on ESPN’s bracketology mostly because a lack of big wins out of conference play, only scheduling a few big schools before Big Ten play. They got blown out early in the year by then-No. 6 Virginia only scoring 41 points on the defensive-minded Cavaliers. In Big Ten play they have picked up good wins against Purdue and Maryland but a lack of depth behind the Big Ten’s leading scorer Peter Jok has led to some bad losses including both games against Illinois. They need any win they can get to make a late-season push to get into the Big Dance. They will play at home in Carver-Hawkeye Arena against the Penn State Nittany Lions to wrap up their regular season.
Penn State enters the game against the Hawkeyes sitting in 13th place in the Big Ten. Struggling with various illneses Penn State’s depth has been tested the last few weeks. Nazeer Bostick saw his minutes increase in February before a broken hand in practice led to his season coming to an early end.
Penn State has had a year full of close losses seemingly just a step away from a competitor in the Big Ten. On senior day not one senior was honored as there were none on Penn State’s roster so Pat Chambers will have his entire lineup return next year.
To add to this optimism, Chambers named freshman do-it-all point guard Tony Carr as a fourth captain. Since that nomination, Carr has been a monster on the court with three consecutive 20 point games upping his season average to 13.4 per game, which leads the team. Lamar Stevens is another promising Freshman who has added a respectable three-point shot to his already impressive finishing skills and mid-range game.
One of the areas Penn State has struggled recently is frontcourt depth. Mike Watkins clearly looks tired on the court and Julian Moore has been less than impressive as a backup. Stevens has picked up the slack with his rebounding but overall, Penn State gets beaten inside far too often.
The matchup to watch for though is between Peter Jok and the Nittany Lions defensive specialist Josh Reaves. Reaves leads the Big ten in steals per game with 2.2 using great athleticism and quick hands to disrupt passing lanes. This will be tested as Jok is also a great athlete with a great knack of getting to the free throw line and converting. Jok is an incredible 142-154 on the season which equates to 92.2 percent to lead the conference.
Maybe the most compelling story line surrounding this Hawkeye team is inconsistency on the road versus at home. When playing at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, they are 13-4 while when travelling, they are a bleak 1-7. This leads to a promising matchup against the young Nittany Lions who at this point are trying to keep hopes of an NIT bid alive.
Reaves has had great success guarding other stars in the Big Ten this year holding Melo Trimble of Maryland to only 11 points. If he has success on Jok forcing him to shoot from the outside Penn State may be in business.
Offensively, Penn State’s recipe for success is for Peyton Banks and Shep Garner to be hot from the outside. This will allow Carr and Stevens to drive to the hoop where they are most effective, shooting a high percentage from in the paint. Iowa will hope to keep their tourney hopes alive while Penn States hopes to play spoiler in this final game of the regular season.
Brian McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism, International Politics
Jon Gross is a senior from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey double-majoring in broadcast journalism and International Politics. Gross currently serves as a Sports Director for Penn State’s CommRadio, where he has also broadcasted for ten Penn State sports teams. During the summer of 2018, Gross was the Director of Broadcasting for the Saugerties Stallions of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. He was also the radio play-by-play voice of the Penn State Women’s Volleyball team for the 2017 season. Gross has interned in the sports departments of WCBS-TV (New York) and WTAJ-TV (Altoona-Johnstown-State College).
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Freshman / Broadcast Journalism
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Zach Kaplan is a senior broadcast journalism major with a double minor in history and sociology. Beyond his work with the Centre County Report, Zach is involved with CommRadio as a sports director and on-air personality, as well as a broadcaster for BTN Student U productions on-campus. He also works with 46Live both on-air and as a producer to provide live coverage of Penn State’s annual Dance Marathon.
Outside of his on-air work, Zach writes for Penn State Athletics covering men’s hockey and lacrosse and has held summer internships with Israel Sports Radio, the Cape Cod Baseball League, and the Coastal Plain League.