Scouting report: Iowa's Luka Garza vs. Michigan's Hunter Dickinson

Ben Yoder
Hawk Central

Iowa is looking to get its fifth straight win Thursday, but to do that the Hawkeyes will need to outplay a tough Michigan team in Ann Arbor.

The Wolverines are ranked No. 3 in both the AP and coaches polls. The Hawkeyes are ranked 9th in the AP poll and No. 12 in the coaches poll. In the latest USA TODAY bracketology projections, Michigan was a 1 seed in the Midwest Region while Iowa was a 3 seed — also in the Midwest.

Thursday’s game, which is Iowa’s first of two back-to-back matchups against top 10 teams, airs on ESPN and starts at 6 p.m. Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale have the call.

It’s the second straight Thursday that Vitale has been courtside to watch the Hawkeyes — and their star center Luka Garza, who now holds Iowa’s all-time scoring record.

More for subscribers:Where is Iowa all-time leading scorer Luka Garza's place in history?

Last week, after seeing Iowa beat Wisconsin, Vitale tweeted that Garza “my choice at the moment” for national player of the year. During the game, he was more exuberant, calling him "an absolute lock."

Leistikow:A prime NCAA seeding opportunity, Garza vs. Dickinson, free-throw shooting

Garza will face another tough challenge Thursday, as he’s matched up against the Wolverines’ Hunter Dickinson.

Here’s a closer look at the battle of the big men:

Tale of the tape

Luka Garza

  • Height: 6’11”
  • Weight: 265 pounds
  • Class: Senior
  • Hometown: Washington, D.C.
  • High school: Maret 

Hunter Dickinson

  • Height: 7’1”
  • Weights: 255 pounds
  • Class: Freshman
  • Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia 
  • High school: Dematha Catholic

More:Jordan Bohannon, on verge of setting Iowa assists record, has even surprised himself

Garza vs. Dickinson: How the two centers compare

At 24.7 points per game, Garza is the nation’s leading scorer and is heavily favored to win the Wooden Award as the country’s best player. He also leads the country in player efficiency rating and 30-point games. And he had 19 straight Big Ten games with 20 or more points.

On top of that, Garza can score from inside and out. This season, he’s shooting 56% from the field and over 44% from beyond the 3-point arc. Prior to this year, Garza's best 3-point percentage over a single season was in 2019-20, when he netted roughly 36% of his shots from deep.

Garza's impact flows deeper than just scoring, though. He’s averaging nearly three offensive rebounds per game and more than 5½ on the defensive end of the court. He facilitates too, with 42 assists on the season. And with about 1.6 blocks per game, his presence on the inside is felt each game.

As a senior, Garza has played in 119 games in his Hawkeye career and has clocked nearly 3,200 minutes played. Dickinson, a freshman, has considerably less playing experience than Garza, but he’s already off to a great start for the Wolverines.

Michigan's Hunter Dickinson posts up Ohio State's E.J. Liddell during the first half Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio.

Dickinson has started the last 12 games for the Wolverines and has shown why he was the Gatorade Maryland Player of the Year in 2020 and ranked 36th in ESPN’s Top 100.

Dickinson has shown flashes of brilliance this season. Against Maryland on Dec. 31, he was 10 for 11 and ended up with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Against Minnesota on Jan. 6, he had 28 points on 12 of 15 shooting and had eight boards. This past Sunday, against Ohio State, he had 22 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.

On the season, he's averaging 15 points a game and 7.8 rebounds. He's shooting nearly 64% from the field too. In the games he's started, he's averaging 1 3/4 blocks, including five against Wisconsin on Feb. 14.

During that game, Dickinson also had 15 rebounds and 11 points, his fourth double-double on the season.

Michigan is one of the country's better defensive teams, ranking 11th in KenPom's adjusted defensive rankings, and Dickinson remains a crucial piece in the Wolverine's puzzle. Ironically, Dickinson and Garza tie for third in the Big Ten in blocks per game (1.6).

Some interesting notes about Garza, Dickinson

As Chad Leistikow reported, when Garza was home during the COVID-19 pandemic, he would work out by himself, with former Maryland star Jalen Smith or with Dickinson.

“We’ve played against each other a lot," Garza said. "He definitely knows my game. But they’re going to prepare for me like every team and watch film, so he’s also going to have that (advantage), as well. And I’ll have the same thing. We both know each others’ games pretty well."

The battle between the big men could go a long way in determining which team comes out on top.