NCAA Basketball

Keegan Murray, No. 24 Iowa have score to settle at Michigan

There have been few better teams than No. 24 Iowa over the past month.

The Hawkeyes (21-8, 11-7 Big Ten) have won four in a row and seven of their past eight games, but there was one blemish in that stretch: a home loss to Michigan.

Iowa will look for a little revenge on the road Thursday night when it visits a Wolverines team (16-12, 10-8) that is fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid.

Iowa enters the game tied for fourth in the league and still is in the running to earn a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament. The Hawkeyes are all but a lock for an NCAA berth.

After an 82-61 home rout of Northwestern on Monday, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said positive expectations at the beginning of the season have come to fruition of late.

"Just as you go through the ups and downs, this team stayed together and stayed positive, and again, continued to get great contribution from a lot of different people," McCaffery said. "And that's what we've become. Any game, you don't know who's going to do what. But a good number of them are playing well, I know that."

As is usually the case, Iowa has a high-octane offense that leads the Big Ten in scoring at 83.7 points per contest.

There have been few better players in the country than Keegan Murray, who is averaging 23.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.

The only defeat for the Hawkeyes in this 7-1 stretch was an 84-79 home loss to Michigan on Feb. 17.

Iowa shot just 4 of 18 from 3-point range and couldn't stop Michigan freshman Moussa Diabate, who scored a season-high 28 points.

The Wolverines hope to repeat that performance in what will be their fourth game in a row at home and third game in five days.

Michigan is coming off a dominant performance Tuesday over Michigan State, as leading scorer Hunter Dickinson scored a career-high 33 points in an 87-70 win that likely kept the Wolverines on the right side of the NCAA bubble.

However, Michigan wants to win another game or two just to be safe, and with a trip to No. 23 Ohio State looming on Sunday, its home finale against Iowa might present the best opportunity to get another victory.

After winning consecutive games over Penn State on Feb. 8 and Purdue on Feb. 10, Michigan has alternated wins and losses the past six games, but that lack of consistency isn't a concern for associate head coach Phil Martelli.

Martelli is the acting head coach while Juwan Howard serves a five-game suspension for his role in a postgame skirmish at Wisconsin on Feb. 20.

"I've thought it to be challenging but not frustrating," Martelli said. "I think it's the nature of the competition we are playing against."

--Field Level Media

Updated March 2, 2022

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