The Vols survived a pesky Colgate team on Friday, creating an intriguing match-up with the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday. Iowa is a very inconsistent team, they went from a top 25 team in February to a team that had losses to Rutgers, Illinois, and Nebraska in March. The Hawkeye’s slump in March also included 2 blowout losses to Wisconsin (65-45) and Michigan (74-53).
The Iowa Offense
For the Vols to reach their first Sweet 16 since the 2014 season, they will need to shutdown the Iowa offense. Iowa’s offense all starts with Tyler Cook (14.6 PPG) and Luka Garza (13.1 PPG). In the Hawkeye’s 79-72 thriller win over Cincinnati, Cook struggled, finishing with only 5 points and 5 rebounds. However, Garza finished with 20 points and 7 rebounds, leading Iowa to the win. Garza’s performance was one of his best all season, as he shot 72.7% from the field and played 32 minutes.
Iowa guards Joe Wieskamp and Jordan Bohannon could also pose problems for Rick Barnes’s defense. Wieskamp shoots 43.3% from 3, and averages 11 points per game. On the other hand, Bohannon averages 38.2% from beyond the arch on the season, with 11.4 points per game. Another weapon for the Hawkeye’s offense is 6’5’’ junior guard Isaiah Moss. Moss averages 41.3% from 3, this season and averages 9 points a game.
The Iowa Defense
Iowa’s team is filled with snipers from beyond the arch that can give Tennessee trouble, but what about their defense? On average this season, Iowa’s defense allowed 73.6 points per game. However, their defense has been slipping recently, allowing 90 points to Ohio State, 86 points to Rutgers, 93 points to Nebraska, 74 to Michigan.
I think this lack-off defensive intensity is what will end up coasting Iowa. Grant Williams will have a monster game in the paint, along with Jordan Bone dissecting Iowa’s defense for a full 40 minutes. Admiral Schofield will also serve as a difference-maker, both inside the paint and knocking down shots from beyond the arch to finish off Iowa’s dreams of a Sweet 16 appearance.
In all, I think Iowa’s offense will show up ready to play, and put some points on the board. However, I do not think Iowa will have an answer for UT’s inside game. I have Tennessee pulling away late to secure their first trip to the Sweet 16 under Rick Barnes.