Quick, take a screenshot of Iowa. The Hawkeyes are averaging a nation-high 97.2 points per game, with 25.7 of those coming from Keegan Murray, the top scorer in Division I.
While those gaudy numbers have been rolled up exclusively at home and against teams such as North Carolina Central and Portland State, Iowa (6-0) has looked forward to testing its high-octane offense against tougher competition.
Monday in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, the Hawkeyes will get that as they travel to Charlottesville, Va., to face Virginia (5-2), a team intent on downshifting as up-tempo squads step on the gas.
“They’re a very gifted offensive team,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “All you can do is try to make those shots as contested as possible.”
Virginia has done that well lately, winning three games in five nights, including two against big-conference schools in the Legends Classic.
During the stretch, Virginia limited foes to 32 percent shooting, including 15.3 percent (9 of 59) from beyond the arc. The defense is led by 6-foot-11 Kadin Shedrick (3.3 blocks per game).
The problem for the Cavaliers is their offense. If East Carolina transfer Jayden Gardner (13.4 points, 8.3 rebounds per game) or Indiana transfer Armaan Franklin (13.0 points per game) is misfiring, Virginia can struggle to score.
Iowa has experienced none of that this year as Murray has been efficient, hitting 62.2 percent of his shots from the floor and 89.2 percent from the free-throw line. He also leads the Hawkeyes in rebounds (8.8 per game) and blocks (2.5 per game). All of this is coming from a player who started four games last year.
He gets plenty of help as his twin brother Kris averages 12.8 points, while Patrick McCaffery chips in 12.5 points per game.
McCaffery, the son of coach Fran McCaffery, says Iowa is eager for the challenge to face tough competition. After Virginia, the Hawkeyes will face No. 3 Purdue and No. 14 Illinois.
“You love the increased competition,” Patrick McCaffery said. “I’m ready and I’ve got a lot of dogs in the locker room who are ready.”
–Field Level Media