Thursday features a Big Ten showdown when the Iowa Hawkeyes (21-8, 10-8 in the Big Ten) travel to the Kohl Center to take on the No. 21 Wisconsin Badgers (20-9, 12-6 in the Big Ten). This is the second time these two have squared off, with Wisconsin winning at Iowa back on November 30th of last year 72-66. In that game, D’Mitrik Trice led the way for Wisconsin with 20 points and 7 rebounds. In the loss, Iowa’s Tyler Cook scored 19 points and brought down 15 rebounds.
These two will face off once again on Thursday with tipoff scheduled for 7:00 pm ET.
Coming into this one, Iowa has lost two in a row and three of their last four. In their last matchup, the Hawkeyes lost to Rutgers 86-72 at home. For the Badgers, they have won three of their last four, but none of those wins were exactly inspiring. They lost to Indiana 75-73 and won against Penn State, Northwestern and Illinois, but none of those were by more than 6 points.
In this contest, the Wisconsin Badgers come in as 7.5-point favorites playing at home. The over/under for this game is set at 140.5 points.
By The Numbers
On the defensive side, Wisconsin has been one of the best in the country all season long. They currently rank 11th overall, allowing just 61.6 points per game to opponents. Wisconsin is especially tough against opposing shooters, allowing them to shoot just 39.6% from the field (good for 15th overall). Iowa, on the other hand, struggles on the defensive side, allowing an average of 73.7 points per game, good for 237th in the nation.
Offensively, it is Iowa that is the stronger team. They are currently averaging 79.7 points per game, good for 38th in the nation. Iowa is especially good at taking care of the ball as their assist to turnover ratio is 1.29, good for 47th out of all division one schools. For Wisconsin, they struggle to put up points consistently. They currently rank 263rd overall, scoring just 69.7 points per game.
Iowa Looking For Statement Win As Regular Season Draws Near Its End
Currently 6th in the Big Ten, Iowa has had a nice season thus far. For the Hawkeyes, though, they know that every win at this point is huge towards seeding in the NCAA tournament. Looking for a signature win, Wisconsin would do just the trick.
Leading the way for the Hawkeyes this season has been junior forward Tyler Cook. On the season, Cook is averaging 15.8 points on 55.4% shooting. He is also bringing down 8.1 rebounds and distributing 2.4 assists per game.
Aside from Cook, the Hawkeyes have three other players averaging double-digits. Luke Garza (12.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1 assist), Jordan Bohannon (11.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists) and Joe Wieskamp (11.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists) have all had nice seasons to date.
Wisconsin Looking For Win For Final Home Game
Just like Iowa, Wisconsin knows that every win is important to improve its seeding. Adding fuel to the fire, the Badgers, particularly their seniors, would love nothing more than a win in their final home game. No senior probably wants that more than forward Ethan Happ. This season, Happ has led the Badgers averaging a double-double. He is currently putting up 17.8 points on 53.8% shooting and is also bringing down 10.1 boards per game. On top of that, he is also dishing out 4.7 assists and is averaging 1.1 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.
Aside from Happ, two others players have been averaging double-digits this season—D’Mitrik Trice (12.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists) and Brad Davison (11 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.1 steals per game).
Taking The Hawkeyes And The Points
Wisconsin is a solid team with an impeccable defense, but for an offense that struggles to score at times, 7.5 points seems like a lot. Throw on top of that the fact that they are just 5-7 against the spread when they are the home favorite, and it seems like Iowa might be a smart play. It is not like Iowa on the road as underdogs have great percentages (they are 3-3 against the spread), but I like Iowa’s ability to put the ball in the hoop, and even if they lose, I think they keep it relatively close. For my money, I am taking Iowa and the 7.5 points.