The last time Iowa and Wisconsin played was back in November, a much different time in the season. D’Mitrik Trice was still Wisconsin’s best scorer at that point and dropped 20 points, while Iowa had yet to suspend Fran McCaffery, who won’t be on the bench for this Game. Whether it’s because the Hawkeyes were without their coach or some other underlying reason, they were terrible in their last Game, losing at home to Rutgers by 14 points. In the Game that McCaffery got suspended after, they lost by 20 points at Ohio State.
Something is wrong with Iowa and a trip to Madison won’t help matters. Sure, the Badgers aren’t a dominant team at home as they’ve already lost there a couple times, but since Iowa likes to run, this usually isn’t a matchup they desire, especially without their coach. The Hawkeyes played fairly well offensively in that first Game, getting solid production from the usual guys as Tyler Cook led with 19 points and 15 boards, while Jordan Bohannon hit a few threes. Wisconsin may not get 20 points from Trice again, but points will come from elsewhere as Ethan Happ and Nate Reuvers only combined for 15.
In fact, Iowa arguably won the matchup in the paint in the first meeting, which is rarely the case for Happ, as both he and Reuvers dealt with foul trouble. The Badgers couldn’t contain the duo of Cook and Garza, which was somewhat surprising, and even then it still didn’t matter. Expect that to change with Happ and Reuvers one of the better frontcOurts in the Big Ten, especially defensively.
Iowa likes to run and shoot, but when the shots aren’t falling against a team that prefers to slow things down, that’s usually not a good strategy. That’s kind of how it went in the first Game as Iowa went just 6-for-24 from behind the arc. Even though Cook and Garza were good, they couldn’t fully capitalize despite Reuvers only playing 12 minutes. If the shots aren’t falling again, this could be another bad Game for the Hawkeyes because they probably won’t have as much success down low. Reuvers has a couple months under his belt and should deal with Cook a little better. Sure, guys like Joe Wieskamp and Isaiah Moss could hit a few more threes, but that’s a tough thing to bet on. Wieskamp hasn’t surpassed five points in three of the last Four Games and Moss has three points in the last two.
Then there’s the issue of stopping Happ on the block. Iowa did a good job in that first Game, but mostly because Happ was dishing it out to wide open teammates. He still shot 6-for-10 around the bucket and there’s no reason to think Garza can stop him. Iowa’s lack of perimeter defense also won’t help against Trice, Brad Davison or a suddenly hot Brevin Pritzl, who scored 17 points last Game. Wisconsin is far from elite offensively, but since Iowa has the least efficient defense in the conference, that doesn’t matter. The Badgers at least have the options to Scoreand that’s all that’s needed considering the Hawkeyes have allowed 176 points in the last two Games to two of the worst offenses in the Big Ten.
Our Pick – Wisconsin -7.5