While the football teams haven't met in the past two years it's safe to say the basketball teams have helped fill the void of hatred between Wisconsin and Iowa. First it was Iowa sweeping the season series last year, then it was Jarrod Uthoff transferring to Iowa from Wisconsin, and then it was Iowa making it three in a row over the Badgers. What's next?
It sure would be a nice boost to the Badgers to finally solve the mystery that has been the Hawkeyes under Fran McCaffery, huh? Bo Ryan and the rest of the Badgers will get their crack at avoiding a second straight sweep on Wednesday night at 8pm Central on the Big Ten Network.
We've also reached the halfway point of the B1G season and while the Badgers haven't been lucky against the Hawkeyes, the Hawkeyes haven't been setting the world on fire either, so what can we expect from the rematch?
Like we've pointed out, Fran McCaffery has been a major thorn in the side of the Badgers and with the 3 game win streak the Hawkeyes now have a 2 game lead in the all-time series at 79-77. Last time out it was a 70-66 win against UW for the Hawkeyes and while the final score may tell you the game was close those of us who saw that game from start to finish can tell you it was more along the lines of a desperate comeback by UW that couldn't quite get over the hump.
Since that game the Hawkeyes are just 1-3 with all three of their losses coming on the road and they will come in to Madison with this being the back end of 4 out of 5 games on the road. Iowa is just 1-4 on the season in true road games this season. Their lone road win isn't exactly a resume builder, beating Northwestern back on Jan. 13th.
So, what has been going right for this team? Not much on the offensive end of the court to say the least. Iowa hasn't been able to crack the 70 point mark in any of their Big Ten losses this season and over the past 4 games they've only been able to crack that in a win over Penn State (not exactly a difficult feat since PSU is winless in B1G play).
Don't get it twisted though as this is a team that is full of dangerous players, led by forward Aaron White and his 13.9 points per game. He's failed to score in double figures in only one Big Ten game all season long and since his 17 point burst against the Badgers he's put games of 13, 12, 27, and 10 together. He clearly hasn't been their issue.
Roy Devyn Marble is the other main scoring threat and the man that poses the biggest matchup problem for the Badgers. However, he's been in a major funk as of late, seeing his scoring average dip from a high of 15.6 against the Hoosiers to open Big Ten play to now 13.4 points a game. His last outing was a less than memorable one to say the least - scoring 0 points, grabbing 3 rebounds, and turning the ball over 3 times as well. I don't know about you, but that scoreline scares me since I know I'd be pissed off and ready to make amends following those kinds of numbers.
This one was sorta hinted at above, but for me it's Roy Devyn Marble vs. Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz for me. He was 4-8 from the field and scored 13 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, and was 4-6 from the free throw line as well. It's key for this matchup to swing in the favor of Wisconsin because, well…. As Ryan Evans goes so goes Wisconsin.
Not only that but Marble, if he plays significant minutes (he has been nursing an injury), is a key cog in their ability to run the floor. If Evans and Bruesewitz can keep him in check in transition and can force him into turnovers (he's got 40 on the year) the Badgers are in good shape.
Of course if Marble doesn't see significant minutes at all then this one could be all Wisconsin. So keep an eye out for the status of Marble in this one.
Prediction: Wisconsin 68, Iowa 51 - Call me crazy if you want, but this has all the hallmarks of the Badgers breaking out. One, they can't get swept two years in a row by the Hawkeyes - that streak simply needs to stop - and two, if you watched the mid-part of the 2nd half the Badgers were flowing much better offensively and were actually hitting shots for a change. It just so happened that Illinois figured out our weakness and put Wisconsin to the free throw line for what seemed like about every possession (really from the 8 minute mark forward).