Game Time: 4:00pm CST | Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena - Iowa City, IA | TV: ESPN2 | Series: Iowa Leads 2-0 | Game Line: Iowa -2
After defeating Fresno State in the First Round of the NIT, TCU will now travel to Iowa to face the Hawkeyes in the Second Round. These programs have not squared off since 1948, but there is a lot on the line as the winner will get a chance to host a Quarterfinal game against the winner between Richmond and Oakland.
In their last game against the Bulldogs, TCU was able to come away with a 66-59 victory. Fresno State and the Frogs both had very similar stats in the game, but TCU had a massive advantage on the boards, grabbing 39 rebounds to the Bulldogs’ 28. The Frogs struggled from the line, where they shot 55.2%, and had 19 turnovers, but they shot well from deep, where they made 40%.
Alex Robinson and Kenrich Williams helped carry TCU to victory against Fresno State. Robinson led the team with 14 points and was 5/8 from the field to go with 5 assists. Kenny Hustle had yet another double-double, dropping in 13 points on 4/6 shooting and pulling down 10 boards. Chris Washburn helped provide the Frogs with some physicality off the bench, scoring 6 points and grabbing 4 rebounds in 16 minutes.
Now the Frogs must focus on Iowa, who enters today’s game at 19-14 overall. The Hawkeyes went 10-8 in Big Ten play and finished 7th in the conference. They are ranked #81 in the RPI, whereas TCU was #67. Iowa is 15-4 at home so far this season and they were also one of the First Four Out of the NCAA Tournament, which is why they are a #1 seed in the NIT. The Hawkeyes did have some impressive wins this season over Iowa State, Purdue, Maryland, and Wisconsin.
The star for Iowa is senior guard Peter Jok, who leads the team in scoring with 19.8 points per game. Jok also pulls down 5.6 rebounds per game and is nearly automatic at the free throw line, where he shoots 91.6%. In 5 games this season, Jok has scored 30+ points, with a high of 42. However, the Hawkeyes were 1-4 in those games.
Two other players to keep an eye on are Tyler Cook and Jordan Bohannon. Cook is 2nd on the team in scoring with 12.1 points per game and he shoots 54% from the field. Bohannon is 3rd on the team in scoring with 10.5 points per game, but he leads the team with 4.9 assists per game. Bohannon also likes to shoot from deep, and he knocks it down fairly consistently at 40.6%, so the Frogs will need to keep an eye on him.
In comparing the two teams according to KenPom.com, the teams are very similar in offensive efficiency, but TCU holds an advantage defensively. Iowa is #43 in offensive efficiency whereas TCU is ranked #44, but TCU is #52 in defensive efficiency compared to Iowa who is ranked #111. Overall, TCU is ranked #40, which makes them the highest-ranked team remaining in the NIT, while Iowa is #70 overall.
Three Things to Watch:
1 - Taking Care of the Ball
Both of these teams were able to advance out of the First Round despite some sloppy play. TCU had 19 turnovers against Fresno State and Iowa had 16 turnovers in their win over South Dakota. On the season, the Frogs average about one fewer turnover per game. However, if one team can create a distinct advantage on defense by forcing turnovers, it could become a major difference in this game.
2 - Free Throw Shooting
Knocking down free throws was another aspect where both teams struggled in their First Round games. TCU shot 55.2% from the line against the Bulldogs and Iowa shot 46.7% at the stripe against South Dakota. Both teams have been similar at the line this season, with TCU shooting 68.1% there and the Hawkeyes shooting 69.5%. Much like turnovers, free throw shooting could be one of those little things that has a major impact on tonight’s game.
3 - TCU NIT History
The Frogs had been to the NIT six times prior to this season and are now 10-6 all-time in the NIT. They have made it to the Second Round each time, but are 3-3 in those games. TCU has never won a Quarterfinal game in the NIT, so this year’s squad will be hoping to make history by getting to the Semifinals at Madison Square Garden for the 1st time in program history. However, TCU must first take care of business today in order to get to that point.
I expect the Frogs to continue their march to Madison Square Garden with a close victory today. Kenrich Williams will likely have the task of shutting down Peter Jok, but Kenny Hustle is more than capable. I think he will be able to frustrate Jok, but must do so without fouling because the Frogs will need to keep him on the floor. I also expect a solid performance from Alex Robinson, but TCU will likely need one more person to step up. Whether it is Fisher, Vlad, or Bane, if the Frogs can get a balanced attack, they should get this win.
Score Prediction: TCU 72, Iowa 67
Here are some additional game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:
- At 20 wins, TCU has its most victories in a season since going 21-14 in 2004-05.
- Jamie Dixon has had a 20-win season in 13 of his 14 seasons as a head coach.
- Vladimir Brodziansky (Second Team and All-Defensive), Jaylen Fisher (Honorable Mention), Alex Robinson (All-Newcomer) and Kenrich Williams (Honorable Mention) all earned postseason honors from the Big 12 Conference.
- Brodziansky was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention by the AP.
- TCU finished eighth in the Big 12, the highest in its five seasons in the league. TCU was picked 10th in the preseason poll.
- At 14-6, it's TCU's most wins at home since a 14-3 home record during the 2011-12 season
- Jamie Dixon has won the most games of any TCU head coach in his first year with the program.
- In its five seasons in the Big 12, TCU has three road conference wins, two of those wins coming this season.
- Jamie Dixon has coached as many conference wins (6) as TCU had in the last three years combined.
- TCU is 19-5 when outrebounding its opponent.
- TCU is 8-2 when shooting over 50 percent from the field.
- TCU is 17-2 when leading at halftime (Baylor, WVU).
- TCU is 11-4 when forcing more turnovers than it commits.
- TCU's 73.7 points per game is the highest average since the 2002-03 season (80.4).
- TCU is shooting 46.2 percent from the field, the most since the 1998-99 season (49.1).
- TCU's 16.4 assists per game is the most since the 2000-01 season (18.9).
- TCU's 35.6 rebounds per game is the most since the 2002-03 season (38.9).
- TCU currently ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 22 in the NCAA in assists (16.4).
- Kenrich Williams ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 37 in the NCAA with 9.4 rebounds per game.
- Williams ranks No. 27 in the NCAA and No. 2 in the Big 12 in offensive rebounds with a 3.3 average on the season.
- Williams ranks first in the conference and 23rd in the NCAA with 15 double-doubles this season.
- Williams ranks No. 10 all-time at TCU for most rebounds in a season. (309)
- Williams (13/10) recorded TCU's first double-double in the postseason since Lee Nailon (27/14) in the 1999 NIT vs. Oregon.
- Brandon Parrish is TCU's all-time leader in games played.
- Alex Robinson has led TCU in assists 27 times this season and has had at least four assists in all but five games this season.
- Robinson ranks fifth for the most assists in a season at TCU with 195.
- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks second in the Big 12 and 25th nationally with 2.3 blocks per game.
- Brodziansky's 79 total blocks ranks as the second most in school history for a single season.
- Jaylen Fisher has made at least one 3-pointer in 20 of the last 21 games.