Yes – Iowa will win out this week

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

Is there ever really a great time to be playing the nation’s third and fourth-best teams back-to-back? No, probably not.

Regardless, that’s the challenge No. 9 Iowa will face this week as it takes on No. 3 Michigan Thursday and No. 4 Ohio State Sunday.

Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, now is as good a time as any to be playing two top-four teams.

Iowa is currently riding a four-game win streak thanks, in part, to the return of C.J. Fredrick.

Since the sophomore guard came back from a lower leg injury Feb. 2, the Hawkeyes have gone 5-2. In games Fredrick has missed part or all of this season, Iowa has gone 1-4.

So, with Fredrick on the floor, Iowa is a better team — head coach Fran McCaffery even admitted that in his most recent postgame presser last Sunday.

Specifically, the Hawkeyes have made major strides on the defensive end of the floor. During its four-game win streak, Iowa has held its opponents to roughly 63 points per game.

Prior to their 79-66 win over Rutgers on Feb. 10, the Hawkeyes had only barred a conference opponent from scoring 70 points on one other occasion.

Fredrick also gives Iowa another weapon to utilize on the offensive end of the floor. The Hawkeyes have lost their most recent matchups to top five teams like Illinois and Ohio State by five points or less.

On the season, Fredrick has averaged 8.5 points per game. Add the Cincinnati, Ohio, native’s average eight points per game to Iowa’s total score at the end of the Ohio State and Illinois games, and the Hawkeyes outscore both those teams by the time the final buzzer sounds.

So, Iowa will score plenty of points and get enough stops on defense to overpower both of its highly rated opponents this week.

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