The Badgers' have taken pride in the title "Road Warriors", and after Tuesday's upset of #2 Indiana in Bloomington, who can blame them? Wisconsin (13-4, 4-0 B1G) will try to remain undefeated Saturday night as they have a meeting with the Iowa Hawkeyes (12-5, 1-3 B1G) in Iowa City. You can watch the game on BTN with tipoff at 7:00 PM CT.
All Badger fans would like to forget what Iowa did the Badgers last year. On December 31st, 2011, Iowa came in to the Kohl Center and shocked the Wisconsin faithful with a 72-65 win. Less then two months later in late February, the Badgers looked for revenge in Iowa City, but to no avail. Thanks to a 33 point performance by Matt Gatens, the Hawkeyes stole yet another game from Wisconsin in a 67-66 win.
It's a good thing for the Badgers that Matt Gatens graduated this past spring.
This year's Iowa team is filled with young guys; their starting lineup includes 3 freshman, a sophomore and a junior. In fact, they only have one Senior who consistently finds minutes in the rotation. Experience is certainly not something the Hawkeyes are oozing with.
The most talented player and biggest contributor to the Hawkeyes is Junior G/F Roy Devyn Marble. He's averaging 15 points a game on 42.6%, while also adding 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists a game. Marble had a huge game against Wisconsin in Iowa City last year, scoring 11 points and shredding the Wisconsin defense for 8 assists. If there's one guy on Iowa who can go off on Wisconsin, it's Marble.
Iowa's best big man is Aaron White, a 6'8" Sophomore who's averaging 13.3 points and 6.6 rebounds a game. The thing that strikes me about White is his ability to hit the outside jumper; similar to Florida's Erik Murphy, who annihilated the Badgers for 24 points.
Key to the Game
The key for the Badgers is on the offensive side of the ball. Iowa has been playing much improved defense this season in Fran McCaffrey's third year as Head Coach, and in the two meetings last year he made Wisconsin's offense look absolutely pathetic.
The Badgers came in to the Indiana game looking to attack the basket and get layups, rather then hoisting up threes. They must keep up that mentality, as it obviously worked wonderfully on Tuesday. Movement in the swing offense is key, otherwise it's 35 seconds of standing around.
If Wisconsin finds themselves playing lethargic on offense and favoring the three point shot, it could be a long night for them. Another thing the three point shot does is create long rebounds that lead to fast breaks the other way. The Hawkeyes are an athletic team that does look for transition buckets.
To sum it up, shot selection and limiting the three point attempts is the key to tonight's game.
This game will not be a cake walk, that's for sure. Iowa always puts forth their best effort against Wisconsin, and that will certainly be the case tonight in front of what should be a pretty rowdy crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
If the Badgers attack the basket, feed the post, and limit Iowa's transition buckets, they'll find themselves winners Saturday night. Will they? I think so.
Prediction: Wisconsin 67, Iowa 59