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Iowa basketball 2021 Iowa Basketball NCAA Tournament Matchup Preview. Oregon Ducks

Iowa basketball 2021 Iowa Basketball NCAA Tournament Matchup Preview. Oregon Ducks

Iowa basketball 2021 Iowa Basketball NCAA Tournament Matchup Preview. Oregon Ducks

Iowa basketball Iowa basketball Iowa Ducks NCAA Tournament Basketball Oregon Preview: Matchup

Sun, 21 Mar 2021 14:00:00 -0700

The Hawkeyes proved they could soar over Grand Canyon on Saturday night

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Next on the agenda: a high-stakes game of Duck Hunt with a bid to the Sweet 

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The Hawkeyes proved they could soar over Grand Canyon on Saturday night.

Next on the agenda: a high-stakes game of Duck Hunt with a bid to the Sweet Sixteen on the line.

One down, five to go.

“That’s 1” @LukaG_55’s on a mission with @IowaHoops.

#MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/IDAwjAhqRu

The Iowa Hawkeyes managed to take care of business in their opening game of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, dispatching of the Grand Canyon Antelopes 86-74 in a game that was never really in doubt at any point during the second half.

While the Hawkeyes did not expect to know their opponent in the round of 32 until they awoke the next morning, fans watching the game at home knew the answer to that question well before game’s end.

The NCAA MBB Committee has declared the VCU-Oregon game a no-contest because of COVID-19 protocols.

As a result, Oregon will advance.

pic.twitter.com/75PFpk8TbC

Due go a slew of positive COVID-19 tests, VCU was forced to withdraw from last night’s #10/#7 matchup, allowing the Oregon Ducks to advance due to forfeit.

This anticlimactic outcome is obviously the worst case scenario for the VCU team and its fans, who will now be denied a chance to compete for a national championship and the program’s first NCAA Tournament win since 2016.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear what if any impact this victory by forfeit will have on the Ducks.

Will Oregon benefit from having extra time to rest and prepare for Iowa, or will they be comparatively rusty and out of sorts having been forced to forgo their opening round game?

While Oregon’s state of mind entering its game against Iowa remains very much in question, the team’s talent is hardly up for debate given its impressive resume.

Oregon enters the tournament with a 20-6 record in addition to having won 11 of its last 13 games.

The Ducks became a far more dangerous team when junior guard Will Richardson returned from his injury, and unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, it is this new and improved Oregon squad that they must defeat in order to advance to their first Sweet Sixteen since 1999.

Iowa is no stranger to playing the Ducks, however.

Iowa faced off against Oregon in the semi-final game of the 2018 2K Classic, a game in which the Hawkeyes upset the #13-ranked Ducks by a score of 77-69.

While the Hawkeyes were able to best Oregon on the strength of an excellent defensive performance and a combined 28 points from Jordan Bohannon and Luka Garza, this victory may not give much of a hint for how the Hawks will fare against this season’s Oregon squad, as Will Richardson is the only player on the current roster to have logged any playing time against Iowa in 2018.

Furthermore, while the 2018 Oregon team was centered around 7’2” unicorn Bol Bol, the current iteration of the Ducks is firmly committed to playing small ball, as none of Oregon’s starters stand above 6’6”.

Playing against Oregon will be a major stylistic departure from Iowa’s last game against Grand Canyon.

While the two teams both play at relatively slow tempos offensively (Oregon is 242nd in KenPom’s adjusted tempo metric compared to Grand Canyon’s ranking of 318th), Oregon makes its bones on offense (13th in adjusted offensive efficiency) as opposed to defense (66th).

Where Grand Canyon attempted to stifle Luka Garza with a wave of centers at or near 7’0” in height, Oregon will swarm him with smaller, but more athletic wing players who will seek to use their speed to create mismatches on the offensive end.

While the Antelopes were able to flex their rebounding prowess against the Hawkeyes on Saturday (Grand Canyon outrebounded Iowa 37-33 and pulled down 18 offensive rebounds to Iowa’s nine), Oregon excels at creating havoc by forcing its opponents into turnovers, averaging an impressive 7.5 steals per game thanks to All Pac-12 defensive team standout Chris Duarte and his rangy, athletic teammates.

The Hawkeyes managed to mitigate Grand Canyon’s impressive size with a strong three-point shooting performance, a dominant second half from Luka Garza, and a 13-point, seven rebound, three assist, four block performance off the bench from Keegan Murray that will give opposing Big Ten coaches nightmares as they contemplate the prospect of possibly playing against him for the next three years.

Will they be able to similarly fell a quicker, more athletic Oregon team that poses such a distinctly different challenge? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Oregon Ducks Statistical Profile:

Points Per Game: 74.4

Points Allowed Per Game: 67.4

Rebounds Per Game: 33

Assists Per Game: 13.4

Blocks Per Game: 3.6

Steals Per Game: 7.5

Scoring Leader: Chris Duarte/Eugene Omoruyi (16.7 ppg)

Rebound Leader: LJ Figeroa/Eric Williams (6.1 rpg)

Assist Leader: Will Richardson (3.6 apg)

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Iowa basketball Iowa basketball

Sun, 21 Mar 2021 14:00:00 -0700

In a clash of similar styles, Iowa had plenty of offense to get past Central Michigan in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament

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As the opening act of maybe the most anticipated NCAA women’s basketball tournament ever, Iowa needed a minute to warm up and get rolling.

The Hawkeyes’ focus had to be sharp against a Central Michigan team that can erase leads in a hurry.

There were moments of concern for this young Iowa unit short on March Madness experience.

But nothing too drastic.

The No.

5 seed Hawkeyes emerged victorious in this clash of similar styles, out-shooting No.

12 seed Central Michigan en route to Sunday’s 87-72 win at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Iowa (19-9) is off to the second round, where it will get No.

4 seed Kentucky on Tuesday. 

“Our team was just really excited to play today.

Someone asked if there was nerves.

There were no nerves,” Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder said. “It was truly excitement just to be able to be a part of this tournament, to be out here today and still playing in March.”   

There were no secrets about how these teams do business.

Put up points, drain treys all over and hope enough defense shows up to avoid a letdown.

After a seesawing first quarter in which Central Michigan held its ground, Iowa hit the gas and never looked back. 

A 15-6 run to begin the second quarter gave the Hawkeyes their first bit of separation — enough cushion to withstand some sporadic Central Michigan pushes.

Iowa had its first-half lead balloon to as many as 16 before settling for a 48-37 intermission advantage.

Buoyed by all-conference guard Micaela Kelly — who fought through three first-half fouls to maintain a consistent impact  — Central Michigan climbed within six on three different occasions in the third quarter.

But that’s all Iowa would allow.

The Hawkeyes had things stabilized entering the fourth and remained ahead by double figures all the way through the final period.

“I think our defense was pretty good,” guard Caitlin Clark said. “Obviously, they’re a great team that can score the ball on offense.

But we knew we’d be up for the challenge there.

I think in the second half, we did a lot better on Kelly.

She only had two points (in the fourth quarter), so that’s definitely encouraging.

“She’s a tremendous player, but they have multiple weapons, and their other players stepped up some.

But we knew we had to lock down and get stops, especially there in the fourth quarter.

That’s exactly what we did.”  

With all eyes on Iowa’s freshman phenom, Clark didn’t disappoint in her NCAA Tournament debut.

The all-Big Ten guard poured in 23 points on 8-for-16 shooting, adding seven rebounds and seven assists.

The Hawkeyes’ offensive gem didn’t wilt on the season’s biggest stage. 

Offensive reinforcements came from several sources, both expected and surprising.

Monika Czinano owned the paint with 23 points on 10-for-18 shooting.

McKenna Warnock added a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds), while Kate Martin provided the early spark.

Eight of her 13 points came in the game’s first six minutes. 

“Everybody knows about Caitlin and Monika and what they’re going to do,” Bluder said, “but when Kate Martin comes out and gets on a roll, watch out.

And then McKenna has been able to do that for us at times.

But today, I thought it was Kate who really got us going, and then Tomi (Taiwo) was a spark too.   

“Having those extra weapons is so important, so teams can’t just focus on (Caitlin and Monika).” 

Kelly finished with 23 points and got double-digit assistance from Molly Davis (18 points), but Central Michigan never found its shooting groove.

The Chippewas, which entered tied for third nationally in made 3-pointers, finished just 10-for-27 deep.

Credit Iowa’s defense for another timely performance.

Now the challenge grows exponentially.

Up next is a Kentucky squad featuring SEC player of the year Rhyne Howard, who propelled the fourth-seeded Wildcats to a cruise-control win over Idaho State.

Iowa will need another sharp performance on both sides of the ball.   

Sunday’s outing should provide a fledgling Iowa group with confidence moving forward.

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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– March 22, 2021

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