No. 4 Michigan, Iowa set for Big Ten opener

NCAA Basketball
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There won’t be much time for No. 4 Michigan and Iowa to come down from emotional games.

The Wolverines and Hawkeyes were in action on the road against ACC opponents on Tuesday. Both teams will return to the court less than 72 hours later to play another intense contest to open conference play.

But there’s nothing they can do about how the schedule was made, so all Michigan (7-1) and Iowa (6-2) can do is forge on toward their Big Ten conference opener Friday night in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Hawkeyes come in after an impressive 68-54 road win at Syracuse as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

“You go on the road and win a game, now you go back on the road,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said after the win over the Orange. “That’s what this level is. I was pleased with the ability to stay the course, regardless of what happened.”

The Hawkeyes also have a 72-61 win over defending national runner-up Texas Tech in Las Vegas on Nov. 28.

McCaffery isn’t afraid to work the bench, given that nine players average at least 14.0 minutes of playing time.

Michigan went from unranked to No. 4 in the country after a red-hot start, but the Wolverines came back down to Earth a bit in a 58-43 loss at top-ranked Louisville on Tuesday.

The Wolverines, who entered that contest averaging 82.4 points a game, were stymied by the Cardinals’ defense and shot just 25.9 percent from the field overall.

Michigan entered the game following convincing victories over North Carolina and Gonzaga in winning the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.

“We have learned from each game and gotten better game by game,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said after the Louisville loss. “I trust that we will get better. This is a great development (opportunity) and transition into conference play. The beauty of this game is that you get a chance to play again on Friday at home against Iowa. We are champing at the bit.”

The game will feature two of the best big men in the conference in Iowa 6-foot-11 junior center Luke Garza and Michigan 7-1 senior center Jon Teske.

Garza enters averaging 20.0 points and 10.0 rebounds a game, while Teske is averaging 13.9 points and 9.8 rebounds a contest.

Both Garza and Teske can not only dominate inside the paint, but step outside and hit 3-pointers.

Each team also possesses experienced point guards who have been among the Big Ten’s most valuable players the past two seasons.

Iowa senior guard Jordan Bohannon, who contemplated taking a medical redshirt this season after having offseason hip surgery, is getting back into form.

Bohannon scored 20 points against Texas Tech and 17 versus Syracuse.

Michigan also has a veteran floor leader in senior Zavier Simpson, one of the country’s premier on-the-ball defenders and distributors.

Simpson is averaging 11.9 points and 8.9 assists per game this year for the Wolverines.

This will be the first of two meetings between the teams in the regular season. The rematch is slated for Jan. 17 in Iowa City.

–Field Level Media

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