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Buy or Sell: Iowa-Nebraska women's basketball preview

BY MATT CABEL AND JAKE SHEYKO | JANUARY 31, 2014 5:00 AM

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Buy or Sell: Iowa will score more than 75 points Saturday against Nebraska.

Sheyko: Sell. The Hawkeyes lead the Big Ten in scoring with 80.5 points per game.

But that number could be slightly inflated given that Iowa’s average during conference play is 77 points per game. This is no knock on Iowa — it states the increased difficulty that comes with each basket against Big Ten defenses. 

One of those stifling defenses happens to be the Cornhuskers, who have one of the best — if not the best — defense in the Big Ten, statistically speaking. This season, Nebraska allows just 61.3 points per contest.

Cabel: Buy. The Hawkeyes are the top-ranked scoring offense in the Big Ten, and I expect to see a shootout from two high-powered offenses because of it.

Iowa has won its last three games by very comfortable margins, and even in its losses, have scored oodles of points. With an opponent such as Nebraska coming into town, I’d like to think that the Hawkeyes are going to elevate their game to match that of the Cornhuskers.

This is a team that has struggled at times in Big Ten play. If the Hawkeyes catch the Huskers on an off night, I fully expect them to exploit that and score points in bunches. The Hawkeyes are playing some of their best basketball of the season, and I expect it to continue against a team like Nebraska.

Buy or Sell: Hawkeyes will contain Jordan Hooper.

Sheyko: Sell. This is a tough decision considering the Hawkeyes just held Minnesota’s Rachel Banham — the Big Ten’s leading scorer — to 9 points on 3 of 12 shooting. But what should worry the Hawkeyes the most about Hooper is her ability to hit the boards.

Hooper may not be the tallest forward — she’s listed as 6-2, but the senior is second in the Big Ten in rebounds, averaging 9.9 per game. Conversely, Iowa has struggled with keeping teams off of the glass. The Hawks average just 38 boards per game. 

Cabel: Buy. With the key word here being “contain.”

The Hawkeyes have shown success in the season holding opponent’s best scorers to under their averages. Penn State’s Maggie Lucas, the team’s leading scorer, entered the second half of Iowa’s matchup against the Nittany Lions with only 11 points thanks in part to a stellar defensive performance from Logic. But in the second half, the Hawkeyes got gassed, and Lucas exploded to finish the game with 27 points.

Wednesday night against Minnesota, the Hawkeyes put more of a concentrated team effort on guarding the Gophers’ leading scorer, Rachel Banham, a 22.8 point per game scorer, who finished the game with only 9 points.

Head coach Lisa Bluder said there’s no way that just one defender can stop Hooper completely. But with concentrated efforts from numerous players and knowing where Hooper is on the floor at all times, the Hawkeyes at least have a shot.

I expect Bluder to throw each and any body she has at Hooper. Someone — or a combination of players — has to be able to stop her somehow.

Buy or Sell: Iowa will defeat Nebraska for the first time since it joined the Big Ten.

Sheyko: Buy. Iowa is playing its best basketball of the season. After dropping their first two conference games, the Hawkeyes have won five of their last six contests.

Iowa also returns home, where it has lost only two games all season. I expect a close game, one that may come down to whoever has the ball last. But ultimately, the Hawkeyes are playing better basketball and are the better team overall.

Cabel: Buy. Like I said before, Iowa is playing its best basketball of the season. Add in the fact that they’re playing the Huskers at home, and the fact that they’ve never beaten the Huskers in Big Ten play, and I think we have the makings of an Iowa victory.

Since throwing Disterhoft into the starting lineup, the team seems to have gotten over the hump of starting games off slowly on the offensive side. The Hawks need that to continue if they plan on taking out the Huskers, and I think they will.

This, to me, seems like a team that’s figured it out — at least mostly. That notion is exemplified by Wednesday’s 20-2 run against Minnesota that sealed the game. The Hawkeyes are focused, they have desire, and that, I think, will constitute into a win.


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