If this game was on the gridiron it would be an upper tier bowl game. Instead, the Hokies and the hawkeyes (try saying that five times fast) meet for the second time as part of the ACC/Big(11)Ten Challenge on Tuesday night in Iowa City, Iowa. The ACC is 10-0 all time in the ACC/Big(11)Ten Challenge, but the Hokies have not done their part. Tech is just 1-3 in the event since joining the conference. The good news is their lone win came against iowa, a 69-65 victory back in late November of 2006 at the Cassell. The other good news is iowa is off to a terrible start.
Here’s a look at how Tech has done in the challenge:
- 12/1/08 – Lost to wisconsin at home by a 74-72 score on a shot just before the buzzer after rallying from a big deficit
- 11/28/07 – Came out flat at penn state and lost 66-61
- 11/29/06 – Almost blew a big lead but held on to defeat iowa 69-65
- 11/28/05 – Fought back from huge deficit but lost at ohio state 69-56
Virginia Tech is just one of three ACC teams with a losing record in the challenge. georgia tech is 4-6 and miami is 0-3. Amazingly, unc is just 5-5. The hawkeyes are 2-6 in the event and have lost three in a row.
The Hokies have struggled out of the gate this year, but have been able to pull out four hard fought victories against cupcakes. Tech’s lone loss came to temple this past Friday. Tech needed overtime the following night to beat a lousy delaware team that was missing their second leading scorer. In their earlier games, VT was up by just six with 8:30 to go against brown, were tied with unc-g-spot with 10:30 to go, and trailed to campbell with 10:30 left in that game. So the Hokies have not blown a team out before garbage time yet this year, despite playing four lesser opponents. Tech will just be happy with a win Tuesday night, but it would be nice to see them put even a good game together.
This game could end up on ESPN-Crapper and set basketball back 20 years. Both teams are shooting under 40% on the season, so don’t expect any offensive fireworks in this one. Both teams are last in their conference in points scored per game, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage. They may call the game once either team reaches 60 points (if either team reaches that).
The Hokies do have some advantages in this game: they are a better offensive rebounding team, get more steals, block three times as many shots, and have a much better turnover margin. Plus, they have the ACC’s leading scorer in Malcolm Delaney, averaging 21.8 ppg and having scored 28 in the second half against temple on Friday. Tech just needs to sellout on defense in this game, win the battle of the boards, and use turnovers to create some easy buckets and they can leave Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a win in front of what will likely be many empty seats in the 15k complex.
SIX PACK OF KEYS TO WINNING:
- Allen stays out of foul trouble – he had four early against campbell and fouled out against temple, scoring just seven and six points in those games respectively
- Delaney is on – if he can hit his shots, like he did late against temple and for the most part against delaware, he can carry this team. But he is shooting just 39% on the season, unable to hit runners or pull-up jumpers. His 33% from behind the arc isn’t great, but you’ll take.
- Get steals/turnovers – Tech has a much better turnover ration than iowa. The Hokies’ turnover margin in their first three games won them those games as they outscored their opponents in points off turnovers 68-19. That dried up against temple (just a 12-11 margin) and VT lost. Plus, steals will allow the Hokies to…
- Push the ball – iowa is not deep and slow. They play just seven guys. Get out and run and wear them down, or get them in foul trouble. Plus, Tech can use all the easy buckets they can get with how their offense has struggled.
- Hope hits their first three-pointer – Tech has had two games where Malcolm Delaney has been the only Hokie to hit a three. They are shooting just 29% from deep. Delaney is shooting 33% and Erick Green is 3 of 8 (38%), but the rest of the team is just 8 of 35 (23%). Dorenzo Hudson and Terrell Bell are a combined 4 of 21 from behind the arc, and Jeff Allen is just 1 of 5 despite word in the preseason he had improved his outside shot.
- Drink Bud Light Golden Wheat!
iowa is firmly a football school now thanks to Kirk Ferentz. The hawkeye basketball program has gotten progressively worse with each passing year. They finished 15-17 last year and 5-13 in the Big(11)Ten. They went 13-19 two years ago and 6-12 in conference. Their last winning season was three years ago when they ended at 17-14 and 9-7 in the league.
This year they are off to an embarrassing start. iowa opened the season with a 12 point loss to texas-san antonio at home. That’s like losing to unc-greensboro. The hawkeyes followed that up with a two point loss at home to duquesne (FYI: duquesne doesn’t have the guy, Aaron Jackson, that scored 46 at Tech last year in the NIT). iowa then managed their first win, beating bowling green at home. In their next contest, they hung tough with #3 texas and actually led a minute into the second half… the longhorns outscored the hawkeyes 47-19 the rest of the half and won by 25. The next night iowa lost to wichita state by 17. The hawkeyes rebounded to defeat an awful north carolina central team by 10 on Saturday. But to put that 10 point margin in perspective – jmu beat nccu by 13, miami beat them by 30, and unc beat them by 47.
The only thing I can think of to describe this iowa team is the scene in Tommy Boy when Chris Farley says he could take a dump in a box and call it “guaranteed”. Well, if you dropped a deuce in a box and labeled it “iowa basketball”, this is what you would have. They are the only club in the Big(11)Ten with a losing record.
In a conference that is not known for explosive offenses, iowa has the worst… by a wide margin. The hawkeyes are averaging just 59.7 points per game. 10th place is wisconsin at 67.4. iowa is shooting under 40% on the year from the field, and 26.6% on threes. Both are easily last in the conference. iowa does a decent job of getting offensive rebounds, grabbing 11 per game. But considering how many bricks they throw up, that really isn’t that many. They get the offensive rebound on approximately 33% of their misses, which is about average (Tech gets closer to 38%).
iowa is in the middle of the pack in scoring defense, allowing 63.7 per game but they are last in the conference in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to hit 45.5% of their shots. That is good news for a Hokie team hitting just 38.5% of their shots. iowa also allows opponents to hit over 40% from behind the arc, another worst in the Big(11)Ten. The hawkeyes get just over five steals per game and 1.5 blocks, last and 10th in the Big(11)Ten respectively. The Hokies get almost seven steals and five blocks by contrast.
The hawkeyes play just seven players most nights, so foul trouble will really hurt iowa. Of those seven, six average between 7.8 and 11.2 ppg. They don’t have one guy that scares you, or can ring up big points like a Malcolm Delaney can. Jarryd Cole did have 24 points on 10 of 13 shooting in their last contest, but that was against nccu and he had averaged just 7 ppg before that contest and 3.7 ppg last year. Sophomore Matt Gatens has been their most consistent scorer this year, averaging 11.2 ppg to lead the team. He has scored at least eight in each game. May, Tucker, Payne, and Cougill score between 7.8 and 9.0 ppg each.
iowa is not good from behind the arc. Anthony Tucker shoots a lot of threes but has hit just 10 of 44 (23%) to date. In fact, no hawkeye that has attempted more than two three-pointers is shooting even 32%. Gatens hits 27%, May 25%, Payne 31%, Cougill 30%, and Bawinkel 32%.
The hawkeyes don’t get to the free throw line very much, either. They average just 16 attempts per game and hit 70%. Tech, by contrast, gets to the line 22 times per game, but that difference is likely due to the fact the Hokies have led late in more games. iowa does not have a single player with more than 22 free throw attempts on the season, so they don’t have an explosive guard that can attack the rim, or a post player that can fight inside.
|PPG||64.6 (12th)||59.7 (11th)|
|Pts Against||57.6 (4th)||63.7 (7th)|
|FG %||39% (12th)||40% (11th)|
|3-Pt %||29% (12th)||27% (11th)|
|FT %||66% (5th)||70% (7th)|
|Scorer||Delaney – 21.8||Gatens – 11.2|
|Rebounder||Allen – 8.6||Cole – 6.7|
|Assists||Delaney – 3.6||Payne – 4.0|
|Steals||Allen – 2.6||May – 1.2|
|Blocks||Allen – 1.8||May – 0.7|
|Guard||23 Delaney – 6’3″||3 Payne – 6’1″|
|Guard||5 Hudson – 6’5″||1 Tucker – 6’4″|
|Guard/Forward||1 Bell – 6’6″||5 Gatens – 6’5″|
|Forward||0 Allen – 6’7″||50 Cole – 6’7″|
|Forward/Center||14 Davila – 6’8″||44 Cougill – 6’9″|
BORING FACTS ABOUT the university of iowa:
- It is in Iowa
- Type: public
- Undergrads: 21k
- Postgrads: 9.5k
- Location: Iowa City
- Mascot: Herky the Hawk (basically a normal football outfit with a really scary looking plastic head on top
- Founded: 1847 (just 59 days after iowa became a state)
- In 1855 they became the first public university in the US to admit men and women on an equal basis
- In 1991 a gunman killed five employees and critically injured one student. He then committed suicide. We feel your pain, hawkeyes.
- In 2006 a tornado hit the campus but no one was killed
- Ranked 28th best public university by US News & World Report in 2009
- Wrestling is their top sport, having won 22 national titles (Dan Gable). They stole Tom Brands from VT in 2006 and made him their head coach. They have won two national titles under him. I’ll always respect Jim Weaver for not immediately releasing the wrestlers that were at VT out of their scholarships.
- Basketball – won the Big(11)Ten Tournament twice – 2001 and 2006. 22 NCAA Tournament appearances. Three Final Fours, the last coming in 1980.
- Tom Arnold
- Tom Brokaw
- Dennis Green (“They are who we thought they were!”)
- Lou Holtz (master’s)
- Harry Kalas (the voice of the Phillies and NFL Films who passed this year)
- W.P. Kinsella (wrote Shoeless Jackson, the book Field of Dreams was based on which takes place in iowa – “Is this heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa.”)
- Don Nelson (NBA coach)
- Bob and Mike Stoops
- Gene Wilder
- Steve Alford used to coach their basketball team but played at indiana