Eighth-ranked Maryland scored a huge conference win against third-ranked Iowa last night, as the Terps topped the Hawkeyes 74-68.
After the game, a couple of Iowa players hinted that the game ball might have had something to do with their poor offensive performance. As you might know, Maryland athletes use Under Armour uniforms and gear—in large part because Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour, is an alumnus of the university.
Since the home team gets to choose the game ball under NCAA rules, Maryland elected to play with an Under Armour basketball. Maryland is currently the only team in the Big 10 that uses an Under Armour ball, and Iowa players reported feeling some differences after the game.
"It feels different. It's heavy like a street ball, like an outside ball," Iowa guard Peter Jok told The Des Moines Register. "No excuses. [But] It does feel weird."
Senior guard Mike Gesell shared Jok's sentiment, but noted that the dimensions of the ball are not different. "It's a little different feel," Gesell said. "At the same time, it's the same weight, same size. Same shape, too."
Gesell's right. Iowa uses a Nike ball for its home games, and any differences between the two would be minimal. Under NCAA rules, all game balls must possess a spherical shape, a circumference between 29.5 and 30 inches and a weight between 20 and 22 ounces.
The Hawkeyes reportedly spent time practicing with an Under Armour ball earlier in the week to prepare for the game, but it didn't seem to do them much good. Iowa shot 42.9% from the field and just 20.8% from three-point range. They also shot 60% from the free-throw line, down from their season average of 72.5. Maryland fared slightly better, shooting 44.8% from the field, 24% from three and 69.6% from the foul line.
Did a slightly different ball really contribute to the Hawkeyes' poor shooting? Nah, it probably had more to do with playing against a good team in a raucous road arena. But on the one-year anniversary of Deflategate, it seems fitting to once again talk about the minutiae of game balls.
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