Northwestern vs Iowa Odds, Picks: Hawkeyes to End Wildcats’ Win Streak

Northwestern vs Iowa Odds, Picks: Hawkeyes to End Wildcats’ Win Streak article feature image

Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images. Pictured: Fran McCaffery (Iowa)

Northwestern vs. Iowa Odds

Tuesday, Jan. 31
9 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Northwestern Odds
-106o / -114u
Iowa Odds
-106o / -114u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Northwestern travels to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes in a crucial Big Ten clash.

Northwestern is now past dealing with its COVID issues that caused it to cancel a few games.

The Wildcats have ripped off three straight wins out of their COVID pause and are now up to second place in the Big Ten. But the three opponents they faced out of the break were Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota, so Iowa will be a much more difficult challenge.

Iowa ended its two-game skid by hanging 93 points on Rutgers, which is one of the best defensive teams in the country.

Fran McCaffery's team is currently sitting at 5-5 in the Big Ten and needs to avoid a meltdown in February to make sure it gets an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern is one of the more underrated teams in college basketball, and now people are starting to take notice.

The Wildcats do two things very well offensively: they attack the rim at an elite level and they run a ton of pick-and-roll. Northwestern is 10th in the country in PPP at the rim and has the highest pick-and-roll frequency in the Big Ten — although it's only sixth in PPP in that set, per ShotQuality.

Northwestern also does a fantastic job spacing the floor and getting the best shot possible, but that really only applies to field goal attempts inside the arc.

As you can see below, Northwestern is 354th in open 3-point rate, which is a problem because during Big Ten play, 42% of its 3-point attempts are coming from behind the arc.

On top of that, Iowa is allowing the highest 3-point percentage in the Big Ten this season, so Northwestern will have to do a better job of getting open looks from 3-point range.

Image via ShotQuality

Northwestern is getting to the free-throw line at the highest rate during Big Ten play, but Iowa is top-five in the country at preventing teams from getting to the free-throw line.

Northwestern's defense has been running pretty well this season. It's up to 22nd in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, per KenPom, but it's just seventh in that same category during conference play.

The shooting regression indicators are also showing that Northwestern is likely going to head in the wrong direction sometime soon.

Image via ShotQuality

The one thing about Northwestern is it played a relatively easy non-conference schedule, so some of its defensive metrics are a bit inflated.

The biggest one is 2-point field goal percentage allowed. For the season, the Wildcats are only allowing 43.1% from inside the arc, which is seventh in the country.

That's very impressive, but so far during conference play, they're allowing 49.3% from inside the arc, which is ninth in the Big Ten.

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Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa is an outstanding offensive team, ranking seventh in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, per KenPom.

It also just put up 93 points and 1.21 PPP on Rutgers, which is ranked second in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, per KenPom.

What the Hawkeyes do a good job of is attacking the rim and taking quality 3-point shots, which are the two most valuable shots on a basketball court.

During Big Ten play, Iowa has the third-highest Rim & 3-Point Rate and is averaging 1.07 PPP on those shots. It also spaces the floor incredibly well, which has led to it being a top-10 team in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency.

It also helps that Iowa is top-10 in turnover percentage on offense.

Image via ShotQuality

Iowa has one of the best offensive players in the country at its disposal in Kris Murray. He's every bit as good as his brother, Keegan, who now plays for the Sacramento Kings.

Kris is averaging 20.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while also shooting 61.4% from inside the arc and 36% from 3-point range.

The problems that have existed for Iowa have been on the defensive end of the floor. For whatever reason, teams are just shooting lights out against the Hawkeyes, as they’re 128th in defensive efficiency on KenPom but 41st on ShotQuality

Iowa is very bad at defending in transition, allowing 1.37 PPP, which is 294th in the country.

It's also well below average at defending catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, which is a problem against a Northwestern team that takes them at a top-20 frequency in the country.

Northwestern vs. Iowa Betting Pick

This is a really good spot for the Hawkeyes at home, where they've played their best this season, going 10-2.

The return of Patrick McCaffery to the lineup was huge for Iowa to put up insane offensive numbers against the second-best defense in the country.

Now the Hawkeyes are facing a Northwestern team that's due for a ton of negative shooting regression on defense. The Wildcats are also coming in on a three-game winning streak against three teams ranked outside the top 70 on KenPom.

So, I love the Hawkeyes -6.5 (FanDuel) to end the Wildcats' win streak.

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