Third time was not the charm for the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team on Friday night. For the third time in five games the Badgers lost to the No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes however this time it was in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. UW will now await to hear their name called on Selection Sunday and see who they’ll play in the first round. It will honestly be pretty nice to play a team that isn’t in the Big Ten as I don’t think I could physically, mentally or emotionally handle another slugfest like Friday night’s tilt.
There was nothing outside of Wisconsin’s performance to critique in this game. The Badgers scored a three pointer, courtesy of D’Mitrik Trice, with 9:21 left in the game to take a 48-46 lead and then...didn’t score another field goal, another Trice three pointer natch, until there were 12 seconds left in the game. They did manage to score six points via free throws in that nine plus minute brick-stravaganza but that obviously wasn’t enough to beat the Hawkeyes.
Let’s take a look at some other things I noticed during the game.
- Luka Garza is a load to handle down low. Nate Reuvers couldn’t do anything against him, on either side of the floor, and while Micah Potter fared better there wasn’t much he could do as Garza scored 24 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots. It’s funny to listen to announcers try and talk themselves into Garza as an NBA prospect because his inability to defend in space will get him absolutely toasted and he won’t be bigger/stronger than 95% of his opponents either, but he is a brilliant college player and watching him is, quite frankly, a joy.
I love hearing every commentator trying to talk others into Luka Garza being an NBA player.— Tyler Hunt (@TylerLHunt) March 13, 2021
- While Garza “got his” the Badgers basically shut down every other option that the high-powered Hawkeyes offense has. Joe Wieskamp was 5-of-13 and only scored 10 points, CJ Fredrick had seven points and Jordan Bohannon was 3-of-9 from the field for 11 points. The brothers McCaffery, Joe Toussaint and Keegan Murray combined for 10 points. Wisconsin’s defense was good on Friday night and held Iowa below 1.00 PPP and held the Hawks to their third worst offensive performance of the season according to their ORtg and their fewest points scored overall.
- One of the main keys was the Badgers contesting three pointers. Iowa only shot 2-of-20 from beyond the arc and didn’t make a single one in the first half. Fredrick (1-of-3) and Bohannon (1-of-6) were the only Hawkeyes to hit threes and there were plenty of possessions where it seemed like Iowa was forcing some bad long range shots. Sure, Iowa missed some open looks too but it looked like playing in a football stadium affected the Hawkeyes more than the Badgers.
- The Badgers struggled with turnovers (14 on the game) and had their second highest turnover percentage of the season. Some glaring mistakes at the end of the game by the usually sure-handed and heady D’Mitrik Trice were especially killer. Down four with 15 seconds left, and a timeout in hand, Trice was called for a five second violation while trying to inbound the ball. he also threw an inexplicable pass with just over a minute left that resulted in a turnover.
D'Mitrik Trice takes the blame for miscues late in the game: "I really put this on my shoulders and it really sucks for me as a senior to go out like that when I know my teammates put it all on the line. As a senior to do some dumb things, it really hurts."— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) March 13, 2021
- This is another thing that I just don’t get: how is this senior-laden team so prone to mistakes that you usually would only find in a high school JV game? Wisconsin plays eight players regularly and six of them are either seniors or redshirt seniors. They regularly do stuff that defies logic. It is great that they are all accountable, like Trice is above, but at a certain point this just becomes who this team is if no improvements are made and the mistakes aren’t fixed.
Look, this is the only thing Potter can say (and it's what he should say) but they've been saying this ALL YEAR. At a certain point...does it get better? https://t.co/BKd1YRnSPv— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) March 13, 2021
- Another area where the Badgers lost the game was on the glass. Iowa had 12 offensive rebounds (Garza had four and Murray had three) and in a game with so few possessions, any extra cracks at scoring were vital. The Hawkeyes ended up with 64 field goal attempts while the Badgers only had 57 and when one team wins by five you can reasonably say that they made up that difference in the extra shots they took.
- Wisconsin only took six free throws on Friday night and, while they made all of them which is good, but that isn’t nearly enough attempts for a winning team. Iowa only took 10 free throws (making eight) but it was more than the Badgers and in a close game every advantage counts.
- UW did have a higher eFG% and TS% than Iowa, mostly due to the fact that the Badgers made 7-of-17 three pointers while, as mentioned the Hawkeyes shot 10% from deep. Trice (3-of-7) and Brad Davison (2-of-5) led the way for Wisconsin beyond the arc. Aleem Ford was 1-for-2 on threes and it’s a little disappointing that he didn’t get a few more looks after shooting 5-of-6 from deep against Penn State.
- I am by no means a “film grinder” but it seemed like Iowa’s pick and roll defense was ripe for advantage to be taken (like in the clip below). Garza would always help of his man and double-team Trice, often leaving Potter/Reuvers open rolling down the lane. While sometimes Iowa rotated to prevent this, they definitely didn’t do it all the time.
When they did rotate to cover up the rolling big skip passes to an open shooter were available. I don’t know, maybe I’m off base here but it seemed like the Badgers should’ve gotten some more easy buckets out of pick and rolls.
- Iowa blocked 10 Wisconsin shots and the Badgers shot 8-of-21 at the rim including a couple of awful missed layups that have been a hallmark of this team for going on five years now.
- Let’s dive into some individual performances. I thought that Potter acquitted himself nicely against Garza. Potter made him work on both ends of the floor and didn’t back down from the presumed National Player of the Year. Potter scored 17 points, but it took him 17 field goal attempts to do it and that is, uh, not exactly efficient. He also pulled down eight rebounds, four on each side of the court, and blocked a shot. Not his greatest performance but nowhere near the reason that Wisconsin lost.
- After a promising step in the right direction against PSU on Thursday, Reuvers was a no-show against Iowa. He only played 13 minutes (which is fine, that’s right about where he should be) and scored two points (1-of-2 shooting), had one offensive rebound and one turnover. He battled against Garza but was, quite simply, over-matched by the Iowa big man.
- I touched on Trice’s game above, but he also had a team leading 19 points, two boards and two assists while playing good defense on Bohannon. When Iowa was able to get Wieskamp switched on to Trice, they went right at him in the post which is the right matchup to try and exploit.
- Davison had a good game on both ends of the court, harassing Wieskamp into a poor shooting night on defense and adding 10 points, zero turnovers and three assists on offense.
- Ford was active on the boards, hauling in eight (two offensive), but couldn’t replicate his shooting performance from Thursday. He made his first three early in the game and then...Wisconsin just kinda stopped looking for him? It would have been smart to try and ride his hot hand a little more but maybe Iowa was keying in on him? Ford had three turnovers including one of the worst passes I’ve seen all season where he tried to do a cross court pass (?) and just...only got it halfway there as it landed in a surprised Bohannon’s lap.
- Tyler Wahl and Jonathan Davis did not score the ball well, each only had two points, but they contributed in other ways. Both played good defense and Wahl had five boards, two assists, two steals and a block. Davis also had five boards and added three assists, one steal and one block. They combined for five turnovers which is a rough number for guys who aren’t really tasked with too much creating on offense but their assist numbers helped offset this.
- Trevor Anderson, since his return from injury, has only made one three pointer (on a mere four attempts) in five games. He might still be suffering lingering effects from his time out of the lineup, but he hasn’t looked like the same player. On Friday night, he was 0-for-3 from the floor, scoring zero points and adding one rebound and one assist. Usually a player that elicits limited to no response from fans, on Friday Anderson had multiple people on my Badgers group chat demanding his removal from the game.
- The Badgers lost the opening 10 minutes of the game (18-11) and the last 10 minutes of the game (18-12).
- Wisconsin scored 0.88 PPP. Iowa scored 0.95 PPP.