Men’s Basketball Primer: Iowa vs. Davidson

Iowa and Davidson face off on March 20 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Here’s the Daily Iowan’s primer for that matchup.

The matchup

Who: Iowa (21-11, 7 seed) vs. Davidson (24-7, 10 seed)

Where: NCAA Tournament South Region (Seattle, WA.)

When: March 20 6:20 P.M. (CT)

Watch: TNT

Quick hits

  • Davidson won its regular season conference title. It went 14-4 in Atlantic 10 play.
  • The Wildcats have won nine of its last 10 games entering the tournament.
  • Iowa was bounced in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament on March 12 by Penn State. The loss broke a six-game winning streak for Iowa, which was the longest winning streak in conference play for the Hawkeyes since the 1986-87 season.
  • This is Iowa’s 24th NCAA Tournament appearance.
  • Iowa and Davidson have only met once before. Iowa won 76-61 on Feb. 1 1969.
  • The winner of this game will face the winner of Gonzaga/North Dakota State on Sunday. The tip-off time has yet to be announced.

NCAA tournament south region (not updated)  Photo courtesy of NBCSports


Iowa and Davidson is set to be a matchup of contrasting styles of play

A few extra’s from Thursday’s media availability


 Aaron White on Davidson’s 3-point shooting

Obviously Davidson, their strength is their three-point shooting, basically from all five spots on the floor. It will be a big thing for us to run them off the line, use our length to our advantage, and contain them that way. They might be a little bit quicker than us, but I think our length will help us. If we run them off the line, force them to our help, I think we’ll be okay.

White on his relationship with Davidson head coach Bob McKillop, who coached White in the World University Games

Yeah, an extremely competitive guy, which I found out early on with the tryouts, eventually making the team as well. It was a good experience with him. Obviously, in a short time, about a month, we didn’t put in too many intricate plays or sets, but we did run the basic secondary options that they run on offense, kind of four out around one with a trailing post. He likes to spread the floor with shooters. He likes to attack the elbows with his guards and pitch back, stuff like that. Nothing huge that we wouldn’t have found out on film anyway, but it is good to have a little bit of experience playing for Coach McKillop, knowing him a little bit.

Gabe Olaseni on the importance of rebounding in this game

I think it’s very important. Especially when a team like this — they shoot so many threes. There are going to be long rebounds around the free throw area. I don’t really think it’s the front line, it’s also the rebounds that may go to the guards.

Fran McCaffery on last year’s tournament experience for Iowa

The beautiful thing about this event is every college basketball player hopes that one day they will play in it. There’s a lot of attention paid to it all year long. You want to see your name come up on Selection Sunday. And then once you’re in, as impressive as the Big Ten is and as exciting and much fun as it is, this is different. To go through that experience last year and just get a feel for how it’s different I think is good. Hopefully, that will manifest itself into intelligent play and better play tomorrow.

Bob McKillop on Davidson’s “shooting licenses.”

We have a theory that shooting is something that’s licensed. And just like have you a driver’s license, have you a shooting license. And our players earn that right to use that shooting license on what they do on the practice floor. So some players have no restrictions whatsoever on their license. Some have restrictions. Some players, they get a couple of speeding tickets and they have to go back to driving school to get their license rearranged. As simple as that sounds, it’s something that our players understand. We’re fortunate this year that we have a lot of guys that have unrestricted licenses and they have earned that and they have earned it not just by the way they have done it on the practice court but they have earned it by the way they have performed in games.

Numbers to know

Davidson made 3-pointers — 337 (3rd in the nation)

Iowa has made it clear that it finds its identity on the defensive side of the court. Even when the offense looks out of sync, the players point to moments in the game when a defensive stop could have changed the flow of the game.

That defense will have plenty to prove when it faces Davidson, who will enter the tournament as one of the nation’s top offensive teams, and it all starts with the 3-point shot.

The Wildcats average 79.9 points per game (6th in the nation), made 337 3-pointers on the season (3rd in the nation) out of their 849 attempts (4th in the nation), bringing it’s 3-point percentage to 39.7 percent (13th in the nation). Whatever way you put it, Davidson can put the ball in the hole. Kenpom has them ranked eighth in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at 118.6 points per 100 possessions.

Tyler Kalinoski made 3-pointers — 91 (t-26th in the nation)

Speaking of 3-pointers. The heart of soul of Davidson’s downtown attack comes from Kalinoski.

While Kalinoski ranks 26th in the nation in made 3-pointers, he’s one of the most efficient 3-point shooters in the tournament, shooting 43.1 percent on the year, which ranks 15th in the nation.

Kalinoski is probably the one Davidson player who can single-handedly take over a game. Earlier this month, he scored 32 points in a win over Duquesne. He went 8-of-10 from beyond the arc.

Davidson turnovers — 297 (3rd-best in the nation)

The Wildcats really aren’t going to beat themselves. They turn it over just 9.58 times per game. In comparison, Iowa turns it over about 11.28 times per game. It’s not a drastic difference, but those two possessions could be the difference between an extra bucket down the stretch, or a wasted trip down the floor.

Whether this puts more pressure on Iowa’s offense to produce won’t be seen until game time. Either way, it’ll either force Iowa to turn a relatively turnover-less team over, or will have to value each possession and take advantage of each of them.

Iowa’s record at neutral sites — 0-4

Who’s ready for a completely useless stat! Well, you’re in luck, as this one likely falls into this category.

If Iowa were to lose to Davidson, the loss would make Iowa winless in five games at neutral sites. That would be kind of interesting, right? In all likelihood, it’s just a coincidence.

Iowa’s been a great road team, and it’s also faced some quality opponents at neutral sites, two of which will be in the NCAA Tournament (Texas and Northern Iowa).

Matchups to watch

Iowa’s guards vs. Davidson’s guards

I’m not going to spend much time on this, as it was covered in the numbers to know portion, but Davidson is fueled by its guards. Iowa’s guards will need to contain them to advance.

The Wildcats have four players that average double-digits. They are all guards. That should say enough.

The good news for the Hawkeyes is that they have strong perimeter defenders in Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons. Both of them will play a huge factor in this one.

Aaron White vs. whoever guards him

Just as Davidson’s guards can win this game for the Wildcats, White can win this one for Iowa. His size and versatility could proof to give Davidson fits.

Davidson is far from a solid rebounding team, particularly on the offensive glass. That’s good news for Iowa. More particularly, that’s good news for White, who pulled down 69 offensive rebounds this season.

Combine this with White’s recent success from beyond the 3-point arc, and we could be looking at White as one of the main reasons for the Hawkeyes advancing, should that occur.

Final thoughts

I wouldn’t be surprised if either team won this matchup. For one, it’s March Madness, and much stranger things have happened (I’m looking at you Georgia State). Also, while these teams have vastly different styles, they are fairly equally matched.

If you’re a believer that experience and size wins, Iowa’s the team for you. If you prefer shooting and explosive offense, I’d go with Davidson.

Predictions are dumb, especially in March, but if I had to pick a team it’d be Iowa. This team is good at handling nearly every situation thrown at them, and those types of teams tend to win in tournament settings.


  1. The Daily Iowan’s exams — Iowa vs. Davidson | Daily Iowan Sports - March 20, 2015

    […] a reason for that, Davidson is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation, as we covered here, and also […]

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