Iowa prepares for road disadvantage at Purdue

Big Ten teams have had a significant advantage when playing at home, and the Hawkeyes will be on the wrong side of it against the Boilermakers.


Lily Smith

Iowa forward Joe Wieskamp reacts after making a layup during the Iowa/Michigan men’s basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, February 1, 2019. The Hawkeyes took down the No. 5 ranked Wolverines, 74-59. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

Home teams run the Big Ten.

Teams playing at home in the conference hold a record of 139-31, and Purdue has been one of those dominant teams when playing in West Lafayette.

The Boilermakers own a 9-2 mark at their home arena, including a 29-point victory over a top-10 Michigan State squad on Jan. 12.

Purdue will attempt to make Iowa’s matchup against the Boilermakers at Mackey Arena today just as difficult.

“Intense atmosphere,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “One of the best in college basketball, so it’s always a tough place to play.”

Purdue’s roster boasts players such as Trevion Williams, Eric Hunter Jr., and Matt Haarms, who have heated up at times in the past month. That makes Iowa’s one-game road trip to West Lafayette on Wednesday even more challenging.

“I really like their team,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “I think they have a lot of different pieces that make them difficult to prepare for. They’ve got some guys who are shooting the ball well. There was a stretch where they weren’t. Now, they’re shooting the ball really well, which changes everything with regard to Williams, and Haarms, and [Evan] Boudreaux.”

The challenge of playing on the road in the Big Ten means the Hawkeyes will have to keep playing the defense that has helped them win games down the stretch in recent weeks.

In Iowa’s last four home contests — including games against ranked Michigan, Rutgers, and Illinois teams — it pulled of single-digit victories by coming up with stops when it needed.

That won’t be as easy in enemy territory.

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McCaffery attributed his team’s ability to lock in at the end of games to his players knowing the situation.

No matter the score or number of fouls committed, the Hawkeyes have shown they understand each other with the game on the line.

Without the crowd on its side, Iowa will attempt to tap into a new level of late-game heroics if need be.

“All five guys have to be on the same page,” McCaffery said. “I think it comes down to, in this case, a smart group that’s mentally tough and is connected.”

Also on Iowa’s side are two players who have found their way onto prestigious lists midway through the conference schedule.

Big Ten leading scorer and national player of the year candidate Luka Garza earned a spot on the Wooden Award Late Season Top-20 list. Joe Wieskamp is a finalist for the Jerry West Award, given to the top shooting guard in the country.

Garza’s accolade does not come as a surprise.

The Washington native leads the conference with 23 points per game and has received plenty of national recognition.

Wieskamp, however, quietly ranks ninth in the conference with 15.1 points per game.

As is the case with most games, both players will be at the top of the Boilermakers’ scouting reports.

“I think [Garza] has gotten a lot of the talk, and rightfully so — his numbers are off the charts,” McCaffery said. “I think on a national level, people know who [Wieskamp] is. NBA guys know who he is. We certainly appreciate him.”