After upset of Maryland, UM braces for buzzsaw that's Iowa

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Congratulations. You beat No. 3 Maryland.

Michigan forward Mark Donnal (34) continued development has left Moritz Wagner fighting for playing time.

The party's over.

Michigan's reward for that upset victory: perhaps its most challenging test yet, given what Iowa has done this year — specifically to Michigan State, dominating the Spartans twice in less than three weeks.

"As anybody who watched the (MSU) game last night, this team really has a lot of weapons," Michigan coach John Beilein said Friday, speaking of Iowa. "You guys that figure out numbers and figure out things like that, I was trying to go through my head, how many seniors we've had in the last four years that actually played.

"And they have four seniors that are starting and a junior.

"It's just a tremendous basketball team right now."

Iowa (13-3, 4-0 Big Ten), joining Indiana as the only remaining undefeated teams in conference play, hosts Michigan (13-4, 3-1) at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Hawkeyes seemed to open conference play with the toughest of slates, with two games against Michigan State and one against Purdue, but it's absolutely been no problem.

Iowa beat then-No. 1 MSU, 83-70, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Dec. 29, but that was when MSU was without Denzel Valentine. No matter, Iowa did it against Valentine on Thursday, beating No. 4 MSU, 76-59, at Breslin Center.

Iowa, led by senior forward Jarrod Uthoff (18.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg), junior guard Peter Jok (13.8 ppg) and senior guard Anthony Clemmons (8.0 ppg) from Lansing, gets the job done with defense. The Hawkeyes, who have length if not Purdue length, average more than six blocks, and nearly 40 rebounds.

Specifically, the Hawkeyes are brutally tough against the 3-pointer, as MSU's Bryn Forbes has found out this year. That's noteworthy, given Michigan's willingness to live and die by the 3. It averages 11 a game.

The Wolverines also are likely without Caris LeVert (lower left leg) for a fourth consecutive game.

"Our guys understand fame is very fleeting, and so are defeats," said Beilein, whose Wolverines lost to Purdue, then beat Maryland.

"This is what's great about the Big Ten, is you have a chance to build a resume every day. You're not waiting for four days in March."

Injury update

Beilein on Friday gave his weekly LeVert update.

LeVert was to go through a series of pain tests Friday afternoon to determine if he'd practice, and thus possible play Sunday.

"If he tests with pain," said Beilein, "he'll be just doing some things that will help with the healing."

Michigan is being cautious with LeVert, given it's the same leg that cost him so much time last season.

The Wolverines, certainly, got a big boost against Maryland, knowing they can win without their leader.

"If you take a first-round (NBA) draft pick out of the lineup, they're different," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery told reporters in a conference call Friday. "But what's helped them is he was out last year. If you look at the players that benefited from additional playing time last year, all those guys are ready now and playing like veterans."

Wagner sits

For the first time this season, freshman big man Moritz Wagner didn't play in a game. He never made the court against Maryland.
Beilein said it's not a knock on his game.

It's simply a matter of the job Mark Donnal is doing in Big Ten play.

"Mo's been making progress all the time," Beilein said. "He gets exposed in some areas that we're working on in practice.

"He'll probably get in every game going forward.

"It was one of those games, some of the things he does well weren't necessarily what we needed in that game."

Specifically, post defense is an area Wagner has to get better at. That'll take time, given he's still getting used to weightlifting.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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Michigan at No. 16 Iowa

Tip-off: 4:30 Sunday, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City

TV/radio: BTN/WWJ

Records: Iowa 13-3, 4-0 Big Ten; Michigan 13-4, 3-1

Outlook: Iowa has won the last two in the series, most recently, 72-54, last Feb. 5 at Crisler Center. ... This is the first 4-0 start in Big Ten play for Iowa since 1998-99. ... Iowa's starting five has a combined 19 years of college basketball experience.