The Temple Owls were able to knock off the last undefeated team remaining in college basketball this season, the SMU Mustangs, en route to capturing the American Athletic Conference regular season title. After a scorching hot start to the Big Ten regular season that saw Iowa climb as high as No. 4 in the AP Top 25, the Hawkeyes have failed to win consecutive games since the first week of February. Can Iowa return to top form or was its success earlier in the year simply a fluke?
No. 10 Temple Owls (21-11) vs. No. 7 Iowa Hawkeyes (21-10)
When: 3:10 p.m. ET (Friday)
Where: Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)
Line: Iowa -6.5
Keys for Temple
There is no question that Temple is coming into this game with more momentum than that of Iowa. However, the Owls would be foolish to look past this Hawkeyes team that is capable of competing with anyone in the country. Fran Dunphy’s squad competed against two Big Ten opponents this season and had very similar results to Iowa. The Owls had a tight win over Minnesota and a rather large defeat at the hands of Wisconsin. Temple must dominate the turnover battle and play impeccable defense if it wishes to be successful against an Iowa squad that averages nearly 10 more points per game than the Owls.
Keys for Iowa
Iowa needs to get out of this funk and get back to playing at its highest level. The shots just aren’t falling for the Hawkeyes of late. Senior forward Jarrod Uthoff, a potential NBA Draft pick, needs to be a beast inside to create open looks for Iowa’s perimeter scorers. Fran McCaffrey’s team has had plenty of time to work out the kinks and prepare for this showdown with Temple. Something that could benefit the Hawkeyes is getting more players involved in the offense. Iowa only has two players that average double-digit scoring (Uthoff, Peter Jok) and perhaps sharing the ball more could lift the Hawkeyes out of their shooting slump.
Temple is a very common upset pick in this year’s brackets, and for good reason, as Iowa is coming into the Tournament ice cold. Nevertheless, Iowa was being considered for a No. 1 seed less than a month ago. Temple is the weakest No. 10 seed in the field, and Iowa should get back on track with this lucky draw and advance to the Round of 32.