Barstool College Hoops: Iowa is For Real, Breaking Down Oklahoma/West Virginia, Injury News


Iowa defied some serious odds last night. The Hawkeyes went on the road and got a win, something that’s been nearly impossible to do in conference play this year. More importantly, Iowa got a win at Michigan State in a dominating win.

So, while our beloved Trent is listening to St. Lunatics, I want to take a moment to talk about Iowa. This is a team that was projected to be a middle of the road group, but right now they are the best team in the Big 10. Better than Michigan State, better than Maryland.

They are doing it with a balance attack and a guy in Jarrod Uthoff, who is making a serious case for Big 10 Player of the Year. Iowa is currently No. 4 in KenPom with an AdjO ranked 11th in the country and an AdjD ranked 12th in the country. Think I’m out of my mind about Uthoff? KenPom has him as the Player of the Year with an ORtg of 119.2

So, what makes this Iowa team go? It’s the fact they simply don’t turn the ball over. They turn it over just 14.6 percent of the time, which is 8th best in the country. This is a huge testament to Mike Gesell, the senior point guard who a lot of people in Iowa never appreciated. On top of that, Iowa is shooting 40.2 percent from deep, which is 15th best in the country.

Don’t discount Iowa this year just because it’s Iowa. This team is for real and has plenty of depth now with eight guys playing at least 15% of the game.

Now, this weekend we have another solid slate of games on Saturday. But, the biggest one happens to take place in the Big 12 – something that’s a common occurrence this year.

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No. 11 West Virginia at No. 2 Oklahoma – 4 pm

I’ve said it all season and I’ll continue to say it. It’s damn near impossible to take your ass on the road in conference play and get a win. West Virginia will try to do that on Saturday while also finishing a week off with wins over the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country. Just like football the cliché saying of defense travels is typically true in college hoops. If there’s one thing West Virginia does well, it plays its ass off on the defensive side of the ball. Press Virginia is a real thing now, with the 3rd ranked defense on KenPom and the No. 1 defense in the country at turning its opponents over at 28.3 percent. However, Oklahoma takes care of the ball, turning it over just 17 percent of the time. The other thing that can kill West Virginia in this game is how well Oklahoma shoots the ball from three. If the Sooners can break the press – more on how to do that in a second – there will be open looks for a team that’s the best 3-point shooting team in the country.

So, how do you break the West Virginia press? The Mountaineers want to bump you, double off ball screens and trap to make guys make quick decisions. The best is to have two point guards on the floor – which Oklahoma can do with Cousins and Woodard. Best thing Oklahoma can do is put starting center Khadeem Latin, on the other side of the court, pretty much under the basket. Bring up power forward Ryan Spangler, who can handle the ball, around midcourt with Buddy Hield and Woodard in the front court. Let Cousins inbound the ball (preferably to Woodard) while Hield clears to the middle of the floor. If Woodard can hit Hield on that cut, it’s a fast break the other way, if not a pass back to Cousins makes the defense adjust and you still have the ball in the hands of a point guard.

If Oklahoma attacks this correctly, it should be in control of most of the game. West Virginia struggles in the half court, especially if they have to shoot jumpers. Oklahoma is a strong defensive team as well that will double and rotate correctly, forcing teams to shoot jumpers. A number to watch is who gets the most shots up. West Virginia wants to outshoot its opponents by double digits.

The Pick: Oklahoma by 7

Villanova at Georgetown – 1 pm

Here’s a game where I think you’re safe taking a road team for a straight up win. Villanova has cut down immensely on shooting 3’s and shooting more effective. Percentage has gone up while the Wildcats have gotten some monster wins over Xavier and at Butler. Georgetown is 4-1 in the conference, but the wins are over Marquette, DePaul twice and St. John’s. It will be interesting to see how Georgetown tries to match the small-ball lineup Villanova plays. Also, the Wildcats can throw multiple guys are D’Vantus Smith-Rivera because of the lineup. Look for freshman star Jalen Brunson to start turning it on here soon and breakout a little bit during Big East play.

The Pick: Villanova by 9

Injury News:

Two big names on the injury front that I want to talk about. There’s rumors that Michigan’s Caris LeVert might be miss the rest of the season with a leg injury. He missed all of last year with an injury to the other leg. Regardless if Michigan can’t get LeVert back, it’s a shame for a team that is one of the four best in the Big 10 because of depth and John Beilein. You almost have to think Beilein would feel like he failed with the fact the senior class this year would include LeVert, Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary and Nik Stauskas. If LeVert can come back and play, Michigan will be a NCAA Tournament team and a dangerous one with that because of their ability to shoot the ball and play multiple lineups.

Xavier has been the surprise team this year, skyrocketing to a top-5 team. One of the reasons for that is the play of point guard Edmond Sumner, who suffered one of the scariest injuries in quite some time when he was loaded onto a stretcher on New Year’s Eve at Villanova. Sumner is set to return on Saturday for Xavier, giving the Musketeers stability at the point guard position. This will allow for Myles Davis and Remy Abell to go back off the ball and have Xavier back to top-5 form.

Other Games to Watch:

Miami at Clemson

Notre Dame at Duke

Iowa State at Kansas State

Baylor at Texas Tech

North Carolina State at UNC

Kentucky at Auburn