Iowa has drawn the 10 seed and is matched up with the 7 seed Cincinnati Bearcats in the first round of the 2019 NCAA tournament. Coming off an impressive performance, beating a high flying Houston for the American Athletic Conference title, the Bearcats are poised to be a dark horse in the field this year. Iowa however, is coming into the tournament limping. After dropping their last four regular season games, the Hawkeyes are 1-5 in all competitions, only beating a lackluster Illinois team in the first round of the Big 10 tournament. Coming into Selection Sunday, there was much conjecture about whether Iowa would get an at-large berth,and although no one knows the selection committees formula, it seems that four wins against ranked opposition, including the floor storming victory against Michigan was enough to secure that mid table seed.
The ability to shoot from three.
There have been major themes involved in Iowa’s wins and loses this season. One major key to any Hawkeye victory is the ability to shoot a high percentage from beyond the arc. Iowa is by far and away an outside shooting team and performance dips significantly when playing against high pressure defenses that step out to defend the 3. The team lives and dies on the ability to to free up space for Wieskamp, who is shooting .424%, Isaiah Moss .419% and Jordan Bohannon, who can almost consistently hit from near half court, at .375% (hawkeyesports.com).
Get the ball inside.
Another keynote in Iowa success is the ability to for a presence inside the paint. During the Michigan game in the Big 10 tournament quarterfinal, Iowa was rendered completely useless inside, constantly turning over the ball and forcing contended shots from outside. Any attempt to get to the glass was almost always blocked, heavily contended, or resulted in an offensive foul. Getting Tyler Cook free will most likely be the key in this match up.
Iowa is scoring 77.7 points per game in comparison to Cincinnati’s 71.7 points, and allowing 74.3 and 62.2 points per game respectively. (hawkeyesports.com). One reassuring statistic is Iowa’s record in neutral locations this season, where they have racked up a 4-1 record. Their only loss coming to now number 2 seed Michigan in the Big 10 tournament where offensive production was minimal.
My overall analysis for this game: It’s going to be a battle of whoever can impose their will early on. Iowa cannot let it come down to a late Jordan Bohannon three with seconds left on the clock, as Cincinnati is far better defensively than both Northwestern and Rutgers. Iowa coming in with no expectations and Cincinnati eyeing a deep tournament run can also come into play.
My prediction: Iowa 72 Cincinnati 66, with a huge game from Tyler Cook inside.
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