The Matchup: No. 5 Wisconsin (18-2, 6-1 B1G) at Iowa (13-7, 4-3 B1G)
When: Sat., Jan. 31; 11am CT
Where: Iowa City, IA; Carver-Hawkeye Arena
Radio: Badger Radio Network
Last Meeting: UW won, 82-50, in Madison (1/20/15)
All-Time Series: UW leads, 81-79
Projected Starting Lineups:
G Bronson Koenig — So. 6-4, 190 (5.3 ppg, 2.1 apg)
G Josh Gasser – Sr. 6-4, 192 (7.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
F Sam Dekker – Jr. 6-9, 230 (12.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
F Nigel Hayes – So. 6-8, 235 (12.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg)
C Frank Kaminsky – Sr. 7-0, 242 (17.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg)
G Mike Gesell - Jr. (7.3 ppg, 3.6 apg)
G Peter Jok - So. (6.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
F Jarrod Uthoff - Jr. (11.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
F Aaron White - Sr. (15.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
C Adam Woodbury - Jr. (6.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
Key Matchup: Bronson Koenig vs. Mike Gesell
Unlike the first matchup between these two just a few short days ago, this matchup will not be decided up front. While Aaron White getting the go-ahead helps the Hawkeyes, the truth is neither team can win this game without great perimeter play.
Just look at the last meeting between the two, with sophomore guard Bronson Koenig making his first career start at point guard. He poured in 13 points and his counterpart, Mike Gesell was so frustrated he had just 2 points and played just 17 minutes.
Don’t underestimate how big it was to keep Gesell off the scoresheet and on the bench in general. The Badgers offense is dangerous to begin with, but adding Koenig’s ability to shoot and distribute has kicked it in to a higher gear. He’s scored in double digits each of the last four games and is averaging 12.3 points per game as the replacement for the injured Traevon Jackson over the last three games.
Koenig is also shooting 5 of 6 from deep over the course of those three games. If Iowa can’t slow him down from the field or from running the offense as he sees fit it could be a long day at their place.
Gesell needs to be a sparkplug for a very dangerous offensive attack when it wants to be. However, he’s really struggled as of late and Koenig’s size could be a real issue for him in this game.
Watch to see if either (or both) get going, it will likely mean the difference between victory and defeat.
3 Important Numbers:
- 55: It’s a number that indicates the level both Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker are shooting at. Dekker leads the team, shooting 55.2 percent from the field and Kaminsky is right behind him at 55.1 percent himself. If both shoot that well on Saturday afternoon it will be a good day for the Badgers
- 123.5: Usually Bo Ryan-coached teams are lauded for their defensive ability, but did you know the Badgers offense happens to be the most efficient in the entire country? According to KenPom.com, the Badgers lead the country in points per 100 possessions at 123.5. It doesn’t hurt that they lead the Big Ten in points, field goal percentage, three-point percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio during conference play.
- 24: Wisconsin is 24-6 away from the Kohl Center over the course of this season and last, which is the most wins away from home in the country and the second-best winning percentage amongst all major conference teams.
Prediction: Wisconsin 77, Iowa 70
No way these two teams play a game that is over before it ever got started again, right? Iowa getting Aaron White for this game really makes things interesting, however I struggle to see how the Hawkeyes shut down four powerful offensive scorers, and that’s exactly what UW will throw at them again in this one.
You can bet both teams aren’t going to forget what happened last time out, but this version of the Badgers don’t seem scared to go in to Carver-Hawkeye arena and win. I see Dekker, Kaminsky and Koenig all going for 15-plus points and the Badgers find a way to do enough on the defensive end for a second-straight season sweep over Iowa.