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No. 3 Michigan Shuts Down No. 9 Iowa, Nation’s Top Offense

Michigan rolls another good team on its march for a regular season Big Ten title.

It’s official: Gonzaga and Baylor have company in the top tier of college basketball, and that company comes in the form of the Michigan Wolverines.

Four days after grabbing a road win over No. 4 Ohio State, the third-ranked team in the land wore down and eventually dominated No. 9 Iowa, winning by the final score of 79-57. It was Michigan’s fifth win by 20 points or more in Big Ten play this season.

But the Wolverines had to overcome a little adversity in the early-going.

For the first time in conference play, the Wolverines found themselves in foul trouble early in this one. Hunter Dickinson picked up a quick foul, and backup Austin Davis had no better luck, collecting two fouls while trying to defend Iowa star Luka Garza.

Despite those issues for Michigan, the contest stayed tight throughout a first half that featured six lead changes and four ties. The Wolverines seized momentum late in the period, when Austin Davis scored on a putback as time expired to conclude an 11-6 close to the half for Michigan.

Dickinson picked up his third foul in the opening three minutes of the second half, sending him back to the bench. But once again, the Wolverines adjusted to life without their 7-footer, and didn’t miss a beat.

Michigan dominated the Hawkeyes after the break, shutting down the nation’s top offense to the tune of 28 second half points allowed. On the other end, the Wolverines soared offensively, led by the efforts of Franz Wagner and Isaiah Livers. Michigan scored a whopping 47 points in the second frame to pull away from the Hawkeyes.

1. Dickinson vs. Garza

This was a matchup we’d been looking for from the onset of Big Ten play. The 6'11" Garza is the nation’s leading scorer and a frontrunner for National Player of the Year. Meanwhile, the 7'1" Dickinson has been sensational for the Wolverines all season—a seven-time Freshman of the Week award winner, and the runaway leader for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. 

In the first half, the freshman got the better of the senior, as Dickinson scored eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, while grabbing three rebounds. Garza was limited to seven points on 3-of-11 shooting, and was held without a rebound. After the break, Dickinson’s minutes were limited by his foul trouble, and he finished with 14 points (6-of-13 shooting), eight rebounds and two blocks. Even with the big freshman off the floor, Michigan continued to frustrate Garza, who finished with 16 points (6-of-19 shooting), four rebounds, three steals and a block. This comes after Garza scored a combined 78 points against the Wolverines in two matchups last season. 

The Hawkeye senior will undoubtedly be a first team All-Big Ten selection, and may wind up the National Player of the Year—but for one night in Ann Arbor, the freshman from Michigan was the better player.

2. “Happy Days” for the Franz

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This is becoming a bit of a broken record, but Franz Wagner was outstanding again for Michigan. It seems the sophomore has been consistently improving from the moment he first stepped on the floor as a Wolverine early last season. Wagner has become perhaps Michigan’s best distributor, showing dime-dropping ability on a consistent basis of late. In addition, the sophomore has proven himself an excellent finisher around the rim and in his short pull-up game. 

The Hawkeyes had no answer for him on Thursday, as Wagner finished with 21 points on an uber-efficient 9-of-12 shooting, while adding four assists. When the 6’9" wing has it rolling the way he did tonight, there aren’t many opponents who can match up with him.

3. Wolverines bounce back on ‘D’

Michigan boasted the nation’s 7th-ranked defense in terms of efficiency when they traveled to Columbus this past Sunday, but Ohio State shredded them on that end of the floor on Sunday afternoon. Tonight, Iowa entered this game as the nation’s most efficient offense, but you wouldn’t know it based on how they looked against Michigan’s defense. 

The Hawkeyes came into this contest averaging just under 20 assists per game as a team, but were held to just four against the Wolverines. With the passing lanes closed, Iowa’s offense bogged down, and the Hawkeyes shot under 36% from the floor (21-of-59) and 32% from three-point range (6-of-19). Clearly, Juwan Howard put an emphasis on defense the last couple days in practice, and the Wolverines showed massive improvement over their performance at Ohio State.

4. Multiple contributors for Michigan

Wagner and Dickinson were the main acts for Michigan, but the Wolverines had many contributors tonight, as usual. 

Isaiah Livers was poised and efficient, hitting 4-of-5 three-point attempts on his way to 16 points and six rebounds. Eli Brooks scored seven points, matched Dickinson for the team lead in rebounds with eight, and added three assists. Chaundee Brown scored seven off the bench and grabbed three boards. Mike Smith had six points, four rebounds and four assists. Finally, Austin Davis again showed his value in his backup center role, scoring six points, grabbing three rebounds and doing a solid job defending Garza. 

The Wolverines’ multiple weapons make them tough for opponents to prepare for, and even harder to defend. This team’s already high stock appears to still be climbing.

5. Two opponents in five days

Michigan doesn’t have long to bask in its second top-10 win in as many games, as the Wolverines hit the road to play Indiana on Saturday. With just one day off in-between games, it’ll be interesting to see how the Wolverines perform in Bloomington. Indiana finds itself as a “bubble team” for the NCAA tournament as the regular season begins to wind down. The Hoosiers will be eyeing an upset to add to their résumé. 

After the Indiana game, Michigan will head back to Ann Arbor for yet another quick turnaround, as they host No. 5 Illinois on Tuesday. The Wolverines are close to clinching the Big Ten’s regular season championship, but the work is not quite finished.