Iowa (11-5) at Northwestern (10-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, January 13, 5:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117) -- Evanston, Illinois. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Iowa 9-2, NU 6-5. Away Record: Iowa 0-2, NU 2-1. Neutral Record: Iowa 2-1, NU 2-0. Conference Record: Iowa 0-3, NU 1-2. Series Record: Iowa leads, 108-57.
GAME NOTES: The Iowa Hawkeyes will attempt once again to win their first Big Ten Conference game of the season, as they take on the Northwestern Wildcats at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Sunday.
Iowa's season was off to a fantastic start, as it won 11 of its 13 matchups in non-conference play, but things have taken a turn for the worse in the brutally difficult Big Ten. The Hawkeyes have lost three straight against nationally-ranked foes, falling on the road to Indiana (69-65) and Michigan (95-67), before dropping a hard-fought home tilt against Michigan State on Thursday (62-59).
Northwestern also came out of the gate quickly, winning each of its first six games, but it too has fallen on hard times in recent weeks. The Wildcats are just 4-6 in their last 10 games, but after losing their first two conference bouts against Minnesota (69-51) and Michigan (94-66), they got back on track on Thursday by notching a 70-54 win at Penn State.
Iowa has a firm handle on the all-time series with Northwestern, 108-57, although the Wildcats have won the last five meetings.
The Hawkeyes led for most of the game against Michigan State, and they appeared to be in control as they were up by three with 1:34 to play, but the Spartans stole the show by finishing on a 9-3 run. They outshot MSU from the floor, .451 to .404, but in the end they were plagued by an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers. Zach McCabe (15 points) and Melsahn Basabe (14 points) were outstanding off the bench, combining to shoot 11-of-14 from the field, while Aaron White chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds. Iowa averages an impressive 74.4 ppg and allows just 63.8 ppg, but in a conference as rock solid as the Big Ten, neither number stands out, as it ranks sixth and ninth in the league in each respective category. Roy Devyn Marble is the team's leading scorer at 15.5 ppg, but he missed the last game with an ankle injury and his status for Sunday's bout remains questionable. White shoots nearly 54 percent from the field for 13.1 ppg while adding 6.1 rpg, and Mike Gesell chips in 9.2 ppg and has team-highs in assists (52) and steals (23).
Northwestern put together an impressive all-around effort in its 16-point road victory on Thursday, out-shooting Penn State from the floor, .458 to .316. Dave Sobolewski paced four teammates in double figures with 18 points. Jared Swopshire added 17 points and seven rebounds, while Reggie Hearn (14 points) and Kale Abrahamson (10 points) had productive outings as well. The stellar shooting night was a rarity for the Wildcats, who rank ninth in the conference in scoring offense at just 66.8 ppg. Hearn is typically the catalyst, shooting greater than 51 percent from the floor for 14.2 ppg, adding 5.1 rpg and more than a steal per contest for good measure. Sobolewski has been fantastic from 3-point range on his way to 11.4 ppg, draining 29-of-65 from long range (.446), while Swopshire adds 9.3 ppg and a team-best 5.9 rpg.
Iowa has been stifled in three straight games against elite opponents, so it will be anxious to show what it can do against a lesser team. The Hawkeyes showed promise on the road in its setback to Michigan State, and although it won't be easy, figure for them to outlast the Wildcats in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iowa 70, Northwestern 66
01/13 10:31:23 ET