The University of Dayton Flyers head down to the HP Field House at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida to take on the University of Iowa Hawkeyes at 9 P.M. on Thanksgiving. This game will be aired on ESPN2. The last time these two times faced was during the 2012 NIT Tournament, and Iowa won by a score of 84-75. All players who stepped on the court during this game are no longer with either team.
This matchup is heavily anticipated seeing that in the latest AP College Basketball poll, the Hawkeyes received 20 votes and our Flyers received 18. Whoever wins this matchup should be the beneficiary of a boost in Top 25 votes from the AP Basketball Committee. Looking down the road towards March, this matchup serves as a résumé builder for the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
The Flyers are fresh off a close win against William & Mary as they rallied back from their first halftime deficit of the year to win. They will look to lean on the hot hand of guard Charles Cooke who chipped in a team high 18 points last Saturday, despite shooting 4-11 from the field. The Flyers will need to not repeat their first half percentages against William & Mary if they are serious about beating Iowa in front of a national audience, as they shot 36% from the field and 12.5% from behind the arc.
Meanwhile, the Iowa Hawkeyes are fresh off a dominant away victory against Marquette, where they defeated the Golden Eagles 89-61. UI started the game on a 28-8 run, and they never looked back as they shot a whopping 54.5% from both the field and behind the arc. Junior guard Peter Jok led all scorers with 20 points in 18 minutes. Marquette shot an inane 38.6% from the field, and 23.3% from 3-point land, which Dayton once again must avoid if they are looking to beat this talented Hawkeyes team.
This game will be an interesting one, albeit Iowa being the clear favorite as kenpom.com is showing Iowa to have a 63% chance of winning by a score 73-70. First thing to look for tomorrow during the game is the matchup between 6’11” redshirt freshman center Steve “Big Steve” McElvene and Iowa’s 7’1” senior center Adam Woodbury. This will be Big Steve’s first challenge of his career, as Woodbury is a talented front court player who could post a double-double at any given time. Another thing to watch for is how the Flyer’s will contain junior guard Peter Jok. Although Jok is averaging 14 minutes on the season, he is a talented scorer who is putting up 14 points per game still. He was truly unleashed in the Hawkeyes blowout against Marquette as he played 18 minutes, and I would expect for his minutes to increase even more tomorrow night as the offense truly flowed when he was on the court for UI.
Tomorrow night, I believe that the Flyer’s will pull out a close victory of 68-66. Although Iowa has returned four of their starters from last year, I think they are due for their first cold shooting streak of the year, and that their seniority will not be able to recover. Happy Thanksgiving and Go Flyers.