When the Michigan basketball team slugged out a 60-52 road win at Iowa in 2008, Michigan coach John Beilein probably never would’ve guessed that four years later, it’d still be his most decisive win in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

After all, it was hardly decisive. That team — led by then-freshmen Manny Harris and Kelvin Grady — had to fight back from a 16-point deficit. The Wolverines finished the year 10-22, a dismal 10th in the Big Ten.

To this day, that win from Beilein’s first — and worst — season in Ann Arbor may have been the easiest he’s been able to come by at Iowa, and the only one that ended in regulation.

In the following season, the Wolverines blew a four-point lead in the game’s final minute and were outscored 14-4 in overtime.

Last season, it was Michigan that came through with late-game heroics, erasing a five-point deficit in the final 22 seconds of regulation before escaping Iowa City with a two-point overtime win.

And last year, thanks to 30 points from sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr., the Wolverines pulled out a 75-72 win in overtime after the Hawkeyes failed to connect on multiple last-second 3-point attempts.

Beilein is well aware of the challenges that come with going on the road, especially in conference play. His team has yet to win a true road test — Michigan’s only road win came at the Palace of Auburn Hills, a neutral-site game against Oakland, which was technically the home team despite its fans being outnumbered.

“Unless you have a team that is so talented and such an incredible rebounding team, it is just difficult to win on the road,” Beilein said. “Usually it takes a few games, but this will be our third true road game — four road games overall. It takes a while, but at the same time, all you need is one to make it happen.”

Hardaway will look to improve on his 30-point effort last year — still a career high — and may have added motivation to do so.

Beilein sparked interest in the matchup between Hardaway and Iowa sophomore guard Roy Devyn Marble, when he offered a look into his recruiting strategies from two years ago.

“We were in a choice of Devyn Marble or Tim Hardaway,” Beilein said. “We made a choice with Tim. Obviously, we wouldn’t have gone wrong with Devyn. Devyn’s a tremendous player.”

Both Marble and Hardaway were Rivals.com three-star prospects. While in hindsight, it’s easy to look back now and say that Beilein made the correct decision, it wasn’t always that straightforward.

Coming out of high school, Marble — a local talent out of Southfield — was already 6-foot-5, while Hardaway was just 6-foot-3. Hardaway, however, has grown three inches and is leading the 13th-ranked Wolverines (4-1 Big Ten, 14-3 overall) with 16 points per game. Marble, though, averages just 10 points for the middling Hawkeyes, who lost their most recent game in embarrassing fashion at Michigan State on Tuesday, 95-61.

“It really doesn’t matter to me,” Hardaway said about going up against Marble. “I’m here, he’s there, and we’ve just got to play ball.”

Iowa (2-3, 10-8), who trailed by as many as 45 points in East Lansing, will be hungry to right the ship.

“We’ve got another chance to play against a team that is ranked, and play better and focus harder,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. “I expect us to play better in a number of different facets of the game. We have to. We have a really good team coming in here.”

The Hawkeyes are led by steady senior guard Matt Gatens, who leads the team with 13 points per game. But the recent play of freshman forward Aaron White — who is averaging nearly 11 points and five rebounds in conference play — has garnered attention by many around the conference, including Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.

“That No. 30 for them, White, is going to be one hell (of a) player,” Izzo said after his team’s win over Iowa.

Saturday’s game could get particularly dangerous for the Wolverines if they’re not careful. In what may be a trap game for Michigan, the Hawkeyes could jump on the Wolverines if they show any signs of looking forward to next Tuesday, when Michigan will welcome the Spartans to Ann Arbor in what could be the program’s most hyped home game in well over a decade.

But Beilein — well aware of his historic struggles in Iowa City — is only focused on Saturday, especially given the limited time his team has to prepare for Iowa.

After Michigan played three games in seven days, culminating in an overtime win over Northwestern on Wednesday that saw Hardaway and freshman guard Trey Burke play all 45 minutes, Beilein’s team had Thursday off, giving it just one day to get ready for Saturday.

“We’ve had to play really hard,” Beilein said. “It turns right around at 12 o’clock on Saturday afternoon. … It’s a difficult challenge. I’d rather just think about that than what’s around the corner.”

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