While the UMass Minutemen found out their seeding in the tournament on Sunday, they will have to wait until Wednesday night to find out who their opponent will be. As a No. 6 seed, they will face the winner of the play-in game for the Midwest region's No. 11 seed: either the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Tennessee Volunteers. We will be taking a quick look at the Hawkeyes and how they will potentially match up with the Minutemen.
First and foremost, if you want to watch UMass' future opponent and do some scouting, the game can be found on truTV at 9:10 PM Wednesday night. The teams will converge at the University of Dayton, which should look familiar as UMass played (and lost) earlier this year.
Iowa (20-12, 9-9) came out of the gate strong; at one point they were even ranked in the top 10. However they dropped six of their last seven games to end the season, including a dumbfounding loss to Northwestern in their first game of the Big 10 tournament. They are directed by head coach Fran McCaffery in his fourth year at Iowa and his first NCAA appearance with them. McCaffery led them to a runner-up finish in last year's NIT.
Offensively they have been elite, averaging 82 points per game which is good for No. 10 in the nation. This fits well with the fast-paced, high-scoring game that UMass likes to play. Interestingly enough, both UMass and Iowa got off to hot starts to their seasons, but cooled off late.
WHO TO WATCH: Iowa is led by senior guard Roy Devyn Marble who led the team in scoring at 17.3 a game. Marble is a big guard at 6-foot-6, and that length allows him to create mayhem on both ends of the floor. He averages 1.8 steals per game and will be guarding Tennessee's best scorer. Against UMass I would expect Kellogg to assign Derrick Gordon to Marble thanks to DG's relentless and physical play. Gordon could wear down Marble over time, as he plays Chaz Williams type minutes.
Another player to keep an eye on is Aaron White. White is a 6-9 forward who scores at an efficient rate, shooting 59.2 percent from the field and an impressive 80.6 percent from the free-throw line. He is a scary inside scorer, who might remind you of George Washington's Isaiah Armwood a bit. White also leads the team in rebounding with 6.7 per game.
UMass has had some interior defensive struggles the past few games, so stopping White will be a big factor should the two teams meet. I think Maxie Esho would be a nice defensive answer to White, considering how well Esho played during the A-10 tournament. It will be important for UMass' big man rotation of Esho, Cady Lalanne, Raphiael Putney, and Sampson Carter to be active and alert when they are off-ball, as help-side defense will be necessary.
HOW THEY MATCH UP: Both UMass and Iowa like to shoot first and ask questions later, so if this game ends up in the 80's that won't be much of a surprise. The Hawkeyes do have size inside with center Adam Woodbury who stands 7-foot-1, and center Gabriel Olaseni at 6-foot-10.
Each man plays about 17 minutes per game, so Lalanne will have to get to know each man quite well. Iowa's size is what makes them the No. 7 rebounding team in the country at 40.7. UMass is only 2.1 rebounds away from Iowa, but UMass doesn't play a whole lot of teams with this kind of size. UMass did struggle when it played Florida State, a team that is also very large upfront, in the non-conference part of the schedule losing 60-55.
Their interior length could pose a problem for Williams in the half-court, as his small stature often requires him to leave his feet sooner than he would like. Iowa averages 5.1 blocks per game, so it is safe to say that Chaz could be the victim of at least one rejection. However their defense isn't spectacular as they are ranked No. 180 in points allowed, giving up 70.1 per contest.
Overall Iowa is kind of like the BCS version of UMass in terms of style of play. Both teams love to put up points and play at an accelerated rate, so this could be a high scoring affair.