Hawkeyes get third crack at Wolverines


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When the Iowa men’s basketball team tangles with Michigan inside Conseco Field House at 1:30 p.m. today in Indianapolis, the Hawkeyes will have shot at a bit of redemption.

Since 2007, when Todd Lickliter came to Iowa from Butler and John Beilein arrived at Michigan from West Virginia, the Wolverines have controlled the conference series, 6-2. Included in those six wins for Michigan are two-straight first-round Big Ten Tournament victories over Iowa, plus wins in both the team’s meetings this season.

Most recently, Michigan edged the Hawkeyes, 80-78, in overtime in Iowa City on Feb. 16.

Once again, the key for No. 9-seed Iowa (10-21, 4-14) seems simple against No. 8 Michigan (14-16, 7-11): Keep senior DeShawn Sims and junior Manny Harris from sparking the Wolverines’ offense.

That task has proven to be the Hawkeyes’ downfall in past contests.

In last year’s 73-45 drubbing in the Big Ten tourney, the Michigan’s premier duo combined for the same number of points (45) as Iowa managed. Sims put up 27 and Harris 18.

“I think we just lay down, and there’s no excuses for that,” junior Jarryd Cole said about last year’s game. “We didn’t come out and compete at all, and they exploited us.”

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Beilein’s squad again exploited the Hawkeyes on Jan. 30, when the two teams met in Ann Arbor, Mich. Sims and Harris recorded 20 points apiece (Sims also hauled in 12 rebounds) to lead the Wolverines to a 60-46 victory — the score nowhere close to indicating how much Michigan had imposed its will.

But as painful as both of Iowa’s losses were, neither felt more scathing than the 80-78 overtime loss in Carver-Hawkeye Arena last month. During that matchup, the Hawkeyes appeared to be in control until Sims swished two critical shots late in the second half to send the contest to overtime.

Eric May, who made the conference’s All-Freshman team on Monday, will likely guard Harris during the bulk of today’s contest.

Fuller and Cole will probably rotate in an attempt to shut down Sims in the paint.

“I feel like we kind of know what he’s capable of doing,” Fuller said. “We know he likes to score down low, he can shoot the jump shot, shoot the 3, and we just got to mix up pressure and just keep him under control.”

But one aspect of Michigan’s lineup Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter stressed during a press conference Tuesday afternoon is the Wolverines’ role players. Sophomores Stu Douglass and Zack Novak cannot be overlooked by the Hawkeyes, the coach said.

“We’ve got to make sure we contest those guys, and then contain as best possible, Sims and Harris,” Lickliter said.

The winner of today’s contest will draw the top-seeded Ohio State (24-7, 14-4) in the first quarterfinal game of the tournament at 11 a.m. Friday.

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