UNC Basketball: Know Your Enemy- Iowa


On Wednesday night, December 3, the North Carolina Tar Heels will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill. This game on ESPN will be the 11th matchup in this year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Tar Heels will look to even the all-time series against the Hawkeyes that now stands at 1-2 in favor of Iowa. The teams last meeting ended 106-92 at the 2004 Maui Invitational where the Hawkeyes were the first of many victims of the Tar Heels during their 2004-2005 NCAA championship campaign.

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Iowa finished last season with a 20-13 record after an impressive 19-6 start. As Big Ten conference play began, Iowa’s defense was not able to hold up down the stretch of games, bringing their total points-allowed average to 70.3 per game; good for 185th in the country. After finishing 9-9 in Big Ten conference play, the Hawkeyes still managed to earn a first-round NCAA Tournament berth against the Tennessee Volunteers. The Volunteers would go on to win that game 78-65 in overtime after a highly contested 40 minutes of regulation.

In the offseason, the Hawkeyes would last season’s leading scorer, guard Devyn Marble, to the NBA draft and the Orlando Magic. Head coach Fran McCaffery will be returning for his fifth season at the helm. Returning players for the 2014-2015 season will include the rest of Iowa’s core — Mike Gesell, Aaron White, and Adam Woodbury. All three players will likely be starters for the season, and junior point guard, Anthony Clemmons, will likely take over for the loss of Marble while highly rated junior college incomer, point guard, Trey Dickerson, learns the offense.

Mar 19, 2014; Dayton, OH, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes center Adam Woodbury (34) goes up for a shot past Tennessee Volunteers defense in the first half of a college basketball game during the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at UD Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With five returning seniors and four returning juniors, Iowa will prove to be a very experienced team. Ten players from last year’s team averaged over 10 minutes per game, and this season should be no different. The depth of this Iowa team should be of great value against teams of lesser talent. However, the Hawkeyes tended to lose focus as a team in games last season as head coach Fran McCaffery made constant rotation changes. It is very difficult to build quality chemistry between teammates when they are constantly being cycled on-and-off of the court with different players around them. With another year under most of their belts, the Hawkeye players will likely be more comfortable with one another, yet there will still be a learning curve because of the younger players that will likely get a chance at some playing time.

The Tar Heels should match up well with the Hawkeyes. The two teams will have a mix of young talent and experience in their respective backcourts, yet Iowa will take experience over North Carolina’s talent in the frontcourt. Iowa is likely to come near last season’s average of 81.5 points per game, but will in-turn fall right into how Roy Williams and his Tar Heels prefer to play; fast-paced and scoring galore.