Wisconsin Men’s basketball is back in action tonight as they hit the road to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes. This will be a good first road test (No Fiserv doesnt count) for the Badgers who are coming off a big win over 13th-ranked Maryland in the Kohl Center this past Tuesday. Let’s dive into this matchup with the Hawkeyes.
Who (are the Badgers playing): Iowa
What (are they): Hawkeyes
When: 5:30 PM CT
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
How (to watch): BTN
Series History: Since 1950, Wisconsin is 58-67 against Iowa. The average margin of victory over their history has been just 2.8 points.
After 8 seasons in Iowa City Jordan Bohannon has moved on to something else! Additionally, Iowa is without some other big names from last year as Keegan Murray (Sacramento Kings) and Joe Toussaint (transferred to West Virginia) are both gone.
Despite that, the Hawkeyes still have two McCaffreys there should still be plenty of whining. Additionally, they have another Murray that is lighting it up. All they need is another Bohannon and Garza brother to really make things feel right. The more things change, the more things stay the same.
Alright, let’s get serious. Last year, Keegan Murray took a massive jump in production, and this year it appears his brother Kris Murray is doing the same. Entering Sunday, Murray is currently averaging a double-double scoring 19.1 points per game and grabbing 10.1 rebounds per game.
However, we’ll see if we see Murray is able to go for the Hawkeyes on Sunday. Murray was not able to play in the Hawkeye's latest contest against Iowa State due to a lower-body injury. According to Iowa, Murray’s timeline for a return is “unknown”.
Beyond Murray, Iowa does have three players also in double figures. Patrick McCaffrey is averaging 12.8 points per game, Filip Rebraca is averaging 11.6 points per game, and guard Tony Perkins is averaging 11.6 points per game. Rebraca is coming off his best performance of the season as he scored 22 points against Iowa State in their last contest.
Things to watch for Wisconsin
The cleaner the better: As stated in the quick facts, the average margin of victory over this rivalry is just 2.8 points per game. These games are almost always a barn burner that stays close until the final minutes. Much like in football, the team that is able to make the least amount of mistakes when they have the ball is likely coming away with a win in this contest. Coming into Sunday both Iowa and Wisconsin rank toward the top when it comes to turnovers per game. Iowa ranks 10th with an average of 10 turnovers per game while Wisconsin comes in 16th with an average of 10.2 turnovers per game.
One thing to note, in Iowa’s last contest they took on Iowa State which currently possesses one of the best defenses in the country. In that contest, Iowa State forced Iowa into 18 turnovers. Wisconsin’s defense is not far behind the Cyclones so if they can force Iowa into some of those same mistakes they’d be in a good spot Sunday night.
Late-game shooting: As the Badgers have gotten deeper into the season Head Coach Greg Gard has tightened up his rotation to pretty much seven players. Gard seems to go with the usual starting five followed by Essegian as the 6th man and Carter Gilmore as the guy who gives the bigs a blow. Guard Kamari McGee did get some run against Marquette, but that was mostly filling in for Hepburn/Essegian after Hepburn went down with his injury.
Due to the tight rotation, Wisconsin has had some scoring slumps in the 2nd half as energy starts to drain. How Wisconsin comes out in this game likely comes down to how the Badgers fare in knocking down shots late in the 2nd half.
Thankfully for Wisconsin, Iowa doesn't go all that deep either so you could see a game that struggles to find a winner down the late stretch.