|Michigan-Iowa Big Ten showdown to feature matchup of top big men|
As true freshman Hunter Dickinson continues to improve, so too do the third-ranked Michigan Wolverines.
Dickinson, a 7-foot-1, 255-pound center, leads Michigan in scoring (15.0), rebounds (7.8), blocks (1.6) and field-goal percentage (63.9). He has also been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week seven times, tying Trey Burke's program record set in 2011-2012.
"He is growing before our eyes," Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. "Hunter wants to be coached and has a high basketball IQ due to his passion for the game."
On Thursday night, Dickinson and the rest of the Wolverines (16-1, 11-1) will play host to the ninth-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes (17-6, 11-5) in a Big Ten game at Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Michigan, which leads the Big Ten standings, is on a five-game winning streak. The Wolverines are 11-0 at home and lead the all-time series with Iowa 96-65.
The Hawkeyes, who have won four straight games, are 5-3 on the road, including two consecutive victories.
This will be the first time in seven years that Michigan and Iowa have met while both programs are ranked in the top 20. The last time it happened, No. 17 Iowa was at home and defeated No. 10 Michigan, 85-67, on Feb. 8, 2014.
Iowa and Michigan have not faced each other yet this season, which means this will be Dickinson's first opportunity to senior Luka Garza, Iowa's 6-11, 265-pound center.
Garza last season was named Big Ten Player of the Year and was a consensus first-team All-American.
On Sunday, Garza became Iowa's all-time leading scorer, passing Roy Marble. Garza finished with 23 points in a 74-68 win over Penn State.
"Every game, you grow more and more impressed with how he goes about his business," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "He sets an example for everybody in the locker room."
Garza leads the nation in scoring (24.7) and also averages 8.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. He is shooting 56.0 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent on 3-pointers.
Iowa, which ranks ninth in the nation in scoring, also boasts shooters Joe Wieskamp (15.3 scoring average) and Jordan Bohannon (9.6 points). They have each made 56 3-pointers this season.
This will be Michigan's second straight game against a Top-10 team. On Sunday, Michigan beat then-fourth-ranked Ohio State 92-87.
Besides Dickinson, Michigan also has standout point guard Mike Smith, who leads the league in assists (5.4) and tops the Wolverines in 3-point shooting (47.6 percent). He has dished at least six assists in nine of his past 11 games.
Michigan also has Isaiah Livers, who is second on the team in scoring (14.4) and averages a career-best 5.9 rebounds. He has a team-best five games with at least 20 points.
The Iowa-Michigan game had been scheduled for March 4 but was moved up as the Big Ten rearranged schedules - par for the course in the era of COVID-19.
Not that it bothered McCaffery.
"We were going to play Michigan anyway," he said. "What's the difference when we play them?"
--Field Level Media