DATE: November 21, 2022
TIME: 7:00 PM CT
LOCATION: Carver Hawkeye Arena
RADIO: Learfield Sports
LINE: Iowa -30.5
KENPOM: Iowa -29 (Iowa 99.6% winning probability)

Beat Nebraska Week begins with a basketball game against the Huskers’ smaller cousin, Nebraska Omaha. Tipoff at 7:00 a.m. God time on BTN.

The last time Iowa faced the Mavericks it was Peter Jok’s season, and Iowa got into a shootout it couldn’t win. UNO had 53 points at halftime and was walking away with nine points, probably the worst basketball loss in Iowa in the past decade. Yes, this Iowa team had already lost some other bad games that set us up for disaster that early December night, and yes, this Nebraska-Omaha team was a fair bit better than what they have now, but it’s worth noting that this is not the case. t a complete wimp.

Otherwise, this looks like a complete wimp. The Mavs already lost easily to Kansas (understandable) and Nebraska (not so much) and lost a game at home to Ball State last week. Seven games remain on their schedule, including Monday night, where Kenpom gives them less than a 10 percent chance of winning. They’re ranked in the 300s for both offense and defense efficiency, which never bodes well. You don’t really have a profile. They’re not particularly good at anything. This won’t be a long preview.

Head coach Chris Crutchfield, a former Maverick basketball and football player. Crutchfield spent most of his career bouncing around in and around Texas as an assistant and head coach for JUCO/Division II. After a season as Division II East Central head coach, Crutchfield joined Dana Altman’s staff in Oregon for a year and then took over the management of his alma mater. He inherited a thin roster with no seniors and only two seniors, so Crutchfield pounded the JUCOs he knew from his early career. His entire starting field – point guard JJ White (6’2″, 185), shooting guard Jaeden Marshall (6’4″, 210) and forward Marquel Sutton (6’7″, 210) are from junior college Sutton was easily the most efficient regular on the roster, shooting a respectable 48% from the field and 44% from three so far this season (White has assisted 40% of all his teammates’ shots on the field) and a turnover rate of 31% They are managed by newcomer Tony Osburn (6’2″, 180) and Junior assists La’Mel Robinson (6’0″, 160), who is even more of an all-or-nothing (45% assist rate, 39% turnover rate) and absolutely can wear a suit.

On the frontcourt is forward Frankie Fidler (6’7″, 200), who to date leads the team by just over 13 ppg. Fidler has accomplished this in large part at the free throw line, where he has scored about 1/3 of the goals total of the free throws awarded to UNO this season and shooting 91% Center Dylan Brougham (6’9″, 195) doesn’t do much offense and is too thin to do much with legitimate opposing center. Freshman Luke Jungers (6’9″, 210) relieves both of them off the bench and has been quite effective at stretching opposing centers to the three-point line.

That being said, the numbers for this team have been poor so far. The Mavericks are 285th in shooting and 289th in shooting allowed nationally. They rank 243rd in turnovers and 165th in turnovers from opponents. On offense, they don’t make threes (29%, 280th nationally) or twos (46%, 254th nationally). On defense, they foul far too often (opponents get more than 2 free throw attempts for every 5 possessions) and give up an effective field goal rate of over 54%. They’re young, they’re playing for a new manager, they have no real identity beyond “persistent blanket mediocrity”.

Yes, Iowa has Clemson, Georgia Tech, Duke, Iowa State, and Wisconsin in the next three weeks. Yes, Iowa could look ahead too early and let Nebraska down Omaha in that case. But this isn’t 2016, and Iowa would have to look far enough ahead to see the curvature of the earth to make that competitive. It was supposed to be a nice, comfortable evening in Iowa City.