Texas Lonhorns vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Texas Longhorns (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS), 9:45 p.m. EST, Monday, November 23, 2009, Sprint Center, Kansas City Mo. TV: ESPN2
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Texas -15.5/Iowa +15.5
Over/Under: N/A

The Texas Longhorns have high expectations this season, and they have their toughest test thus far in the early season when they face the Iowa Hawkeyes in the CBE Classic at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Texas started the season with two very easy wins over UC Irvine and Western Carolina. The Longhorns defeated UC Irvine 89-42 and they defeated Western Carolina 73-41. Iowa has not started the season well. The Hawkeyes started with a pair of losses to Texas-San Antonio (62-50) and Duquesne (52-50), before finally getting their first win over Bowling Green, 68-46.

Texas is led by 6-foot-7 forward Damion James, one of the top returning players in college basketball. He is averaging 19.5 points and 11 rebounds per game thus far. Dexter Pittman, a very bulky big man who is tough to stop down low, is averaging 15 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Three freshmen have all been contributing nicely for the Longhorns. Redshirt freshman guard J’Covan Brown is the starting shooting guard and is scoring 11.5 points per game. Heralded true freshman Avery Bradley has only score seven points per game in his first two games, while fellow true freshman Jordan Hamilton checks in at 8.5 points per game. Justin Mason, the team’s starting point guard, only has a combined two points, three assists and four rebounds in two games. The Longhorns need a lot more than that from Mason or he will be losing his starting spot very soon, especially with all the depth on this team. Gary Johnson, who started most of the games last season, lost his starting spot to sophomore Varez Ward, who scored 10 points in the first game of the season but only two points against UC Irvine. Luckily for Rick Barnes and the Longhorns, they have plenty of depth to mess with. Iowa is a major conference team, but there is no reason the Longhorns should lose this game. Their first really tough test will be against North Carolina on December 19, so they have until then to figure out the rotation.

Iowa is led by three players who are averaging in double figures. Anthony Tucker, Eric May and Matt Gatens are all averaging about 11 points per game. All three are guards and May comes off the bench. May is a 6-foot-5 freshman, Tucker is a 6-foot-4 sophomore, and Gatens is a 6-foot-5 sophomore, so all three of them are young players with good size for guards. Unlike the Longhorns, Iowa does not have much depth. Down low, the Hawkeyes really only have two players – Jarryd Cole and Brennan Cougill. Cole is a strong 6-foot-7 power forward who is averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, while Cougill is a 6-foot-9 center who is averaging 5.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. If either of them gets in foul trouble, the Hawkeyes will have to either dig deep on their bench or go to a four-guard lineup.

There is no reason the Longhorns should lose this game. They are one of the best teams in the country for many reasons. Their depth, experience and athleticism are tough to match. There is not one area where the Hawkeyes are better than Texas. James and Pittman will be too tough to defend for the Iowa big men. James can step outside and play like a guard and Pittman is too big and strong for Cougill. James and Pittman are two of the best pure rebounders in college basketball, especially on the offensive end. If Iowa is going to stay in this game, its guards will have to step up and really play well on both ends of the court. They will have to outscore the Texas guards and play solid defense and create turnovers.

Ryno’s Pick: Iowa has faced two decent teams in Texas-San Antonio and Duquesne and lost to both of them. If the Hawkeyes can’t beat those teams, how are they going to hang with Texas? The Longhorns should blow this team out. Of course anything can happen in college basketball, but there isn’t any one area that Iowa has the advantage and can exploit. Take Texas -15.5.