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February 8, 2014

What to watch for: Michigan at Iowa

Michigan heads to Iowa City Saturday afternoon with a chance to stay atop the Big Ten standings with a victory. Here are the keys to the game:

1. Which Basabe Will Show Up?

For the first 20 minutes of the first game between the Wolverines and Hawkeyes, Melsahn Basabe did everything and anything he wanted on the court.

Michigan had no answer for the Iowa forward, and the rest of the team just kept feeding him in the post.

He finished the half 7-of-10 from the field for 15 points, and everyone in Crisler Arena expected more of the same when the teams returned from the locker rooms.

Instead, Basabe all but disappeared.

He didn't make another field goal in the final 20 minutes. In fact, he only got two attempts up.

"These guys (Michigan) playing hard and getting out hard, and that's what you're going to expect with success," Basabe said after that game. "It's not our place to feel sorry for ourselves. Everybody wants the glory, everybody wants to be respected, everybody wants the accolades so it's the responsibility that comes with that. I don't think we need to focus on that."

On the year, Basabe is averaging 7.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

He finished the Michigan game with 17 points and six rebounds. If the Wolverines can hold him to his season average - basically, nine or 10 points fewer than he scored last time out - it would be a big step up.

2. Limiting Second Chances

Recently, teams have gotten some second chances on the offensive end with rebounds.

Against Iowa the first time out, which ranks second in the league and 15th nationally in offensive rebounding (12.1 per game), the Wolverines did a terrific job of boxing out and cutting out the Hawkeyes' second chances. They held Iowa to 10 offensive rebounds in a 75-67 win.

Against Purdue, which ranks first in the Big Ten and sixth nationally in offensive rebounding (12.9 per game), Michigan didn't fare well at all on the glass.

The Wolverines allowed the Boilermakers to grab 16 offensive rebounds on 37 missed shots (43.2 percent). 


Indiana ranks third in the Big Ten and 21st nationally in offensive rebounds, grabbing 11.7 per game. The Hoosiers had nine in a 63-52 win at Assembly Hall.

If the Wolverines hold Iowa to single-digit offensive rebounds, that would be a very positive sign.

3. Keeping Pace:

Michigan is great at knowing when to push the pace and when to run a more deliberate offensive set.

The Wolverines pick their spots to get out in transition, but it was the half-court offense that really helped them control the speed of the game the first time around against Iowa.

And that's what helped Michigan hold Iowa to 67 points, which is tied for the Hawkeyes' lowest output of the season.

Iowa likes to run and score quickly. Last time, Michigan did not allow that to happen - if the Wolverines can control the pace again, it would be huge.


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