As part of its preview of the 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. All stats are through Monday, March 16.
Record: 21-11 (12-6 in Big Ten)
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 111.1 (35th)/94.9 (42nd)
Seed: No. 7 in South
Impact player: Aaron White, senior forward: 16.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 50.8 FG%
The Case For: The Hawkeyes first served notice that they might be a dangerous team when they toppled North Carolina in Chapel Hill in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge in early December. They went through fits and starts this season, but ultimately finished with four wins over tournament teams, adding a sweep of Ohio State and victory against Maryland to the win against the Tar Heels. Iowa’s offense is definitely its calling card, as it ranks 35th in adjusted offensive efficiency, but this team can get after it on defense, too. The Hawkeyes are one of three Big Ten teams (the others being Wisconsin and Ohio State) to rank in the top 50 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. White is their best scorer, but junior forward Jarrod Uthoff is averaging 12.2 points per game and shooting 40 percent from behind the arc. Iowa boasts quality depth too, as eight players average at least 20 minutes per game.
The Case Against: While the Hawkeyes do have a strong offensive efficiency rating, it’s hard to zero in on one thing they do really well on the offensive end. They rank 229th in effective field goal percentage, 217th in three-point percentage and 213th in two-point percentage. They take care of the ball, grab offensive boards and make their free throws, but they’re typically not going to beat you by shooting the lights out. Junior guard Mike Gesell is shooting a career-worst 26.8 percent from three-point land, and no one other than Uthoff is making better than one-third of his attempts from distance. Iowa can too regularly fall into funks if White isn’t making his shots or when he’s on the bench, and that often leads to big runs for the opposition. In fact, if a team shuts down White, it typically beats the Hawkeyes. In the eight games in which he has scored fewer than 15 points, Iowa is 3-5.
SI prediction: Lose to No. 10 Davidson in Round of 64