The Matchup: #16 Wisconsin (21-5, 8-5 B1G) at #15 Iowa (19-6, 8-4 B1G)
When: 11:00 AM CT
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa
TV: ESPN 2
Radio: Badger Radio Network
Last Meeting: 75-71 Wisconsin victory at the Kohl Center earlier this season on 1/5/14
Simply put, Iowa is a damn good basketball team. Fran McCaffery uses a 10-man rotation which is notorious for it's tough defense and fundamental play. They also have plenty of weapons on the offensive side of the ball, particularly Roy Devyn Marble, who's averaging 16.4 ppg on 41.4% shooting.
The Hawkeyes may come into this game a bit cold and bewildered considering their game scheduled for this past Tuesday against Iowa was cancelled due to a beam falling from the ceiling of Assembly Hall just hours befor the game. On the contrary, Iowa has won two straight, including a rout of Big Ten-leader Michigan two weeks ago. So it'll be interesting to see how the Hawkeyes perform right out of the gate.
Iowa often beats teams simply by out-hustling them. At times this season, the Badgers have played lack a daisical defense and have been flat out lazy on the boards. There's absolutely no room for that kind of performance on Saturday. If Wisconsin wants to win, they'll have to give it their all, simple as that.
Josh Gasser has been a man on a mission on the defensive side of the ball lately. I would argue that nobody in the country has played better D than Josh over the past month. He'll likely be up against Roy Devyn Marble, a lights out scorer who recently just dropped 26 points against a tough Michigan defense.
Gasser will really have to prove his defensive prowess on Saturday against an elite scorer like Marble. He's the kind of guy who can go on mini-runs that change the whole landscape of games. Carver-Hawkeye Arena is sure to be rocking, so keeping Marble in check and the crowd as quiet as possible will be a crucial factor in the outcome of this game.
Prediction: Wisconsin 71, Iowa 69
This pick may come back to bite me in the ass, but Wisconsin has been playing some really good basketball lately. After their week off, I think they'll be able to put together another complete performance in route to a close victory against a very good Iowa team.