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Iowa Basketball: Previewing Iowa's Trip to Madison on Thursday

Breaking down the matchup between the Hawkeyes and Badgers on Thursday night.

Iowa (16-13, 8-8) at  No. 22 Wisconsin (22-7, 11-5)

Date & Time: March 2nd, 8:05 p.m. CT

Location: Kohl Center (Madison, WI)

TV: ESPN

Quick Notes

- Iowa is seeking it's third straight victory after losing three straight games.

- Wisconsin has lost four of their last five games. Their only win came at home against Maryland. Three of their last four losses have been on the road.

- Wisconsin guard, Bronson Koenig, missed the Michigan game, but is averaging over 17 points per game since his return (3 games).

- This will be Iowa's first trip to the Kohl Center in over 2 years. 

- Nicholas Baer and Ethan Happ both played on the same AAU team in their prep days (Quad City Elite).

- Cordell Pemsl, Jordan Bohannon, Tyler Cook, and Isaiah Moss account for over 42 percent of Iowa's offense this season. 

- Bohannon has made 68 three pointers on the season, that is an Iowa freshman record. 

- Iowa scored on 11 of 12 possessions after garnering an offensive rebound against Maryland. That led to 30 second chance points.

- Bohannon and Cook combined for 45 of Iowa's 83 points in the win over Maryland.

- The Badgers are 14-1 in home games this season.

- Wisconsin owns an 83-79 advantage over Iowa in the all-time series. 

- The Badgers have won the last 6 games against Iowa. January 19th, 2013 is the last time the Hawkeyes beat Wisconsin. 

- The Badgers have won 12 of the last 13 games played in Madison. 

Iowa Starters

Jordan Bohannon (FR): Bohannon had arguably his best game as a Hawkeye against Maryland. He was 8-of-10 from three point land and led the Hawkeyes with 24 points as they downed the nationally ranked Maryland Terrapins on the road. It didn't matter what Maryland did, they could not slow Jordan down. He also had 5 assists.

Isaiah Moss (RSFR): Over the last three Moss is playing just 13 minutes per game and only averaging about a point per game. We've seen him be very special at times, but other guards have been playing better than him as of late. 

Peter Jok (SR): Jok is averaging over 20 points per game in the last three, including that big 35 point performance against Indiana. He leads the team in scoring (20.7) and rebounding (6.3) over the last three and is shooting over 93% from the free throw line. 

Ahmad Wagner (SO): Wagner hasn't been playing much over the last three much like Moss. He's been outplayed by Cordell Pemsl and Nicholas Baer, but still provides a lot of hustle that Iowa needs out of the gate.

Tyler Cook (FR): Cook has played his best stretch of basketball over the past few weeks. He recorded his first double-double of the season against Maryland with 21 points and 10 rebounds and is averaging about 15 points per game over the last three. He's looked more aggressive on both ends and is starting to really develop that killer instinct.

Iowa Bench Pieces

Nicholas Baer (RSSO): Baer has been playing some big time minutes in the last three games. He is averaging almost 10 points and 5 rebounds per game during that stretch and is playing over 27 minutes per. He's also shooting an impressive 41% from three point land. When Baer is scoring he just adds another dimension to his game, which is dangerous.

Cordell Pemsl (FR): Pemsl gives Iowa good front court depth behind Wagner and Cook. He can score a lot in little minutes and his craftiness around the hoop tends to confuse defenses. He's a heady player and has been a valuable piece over the course of the entire season.

Christian Williams (SO): Williams plays his best game against Indiana, scoring 10 points. He scored just 2 against Maryland, but given how hot Bohannon was, that is to be expected. He gives Iowa a few things Bohannon struggles at, which is defense and slashing to the goal. He'll continue to spell Jordan when need be.

Brady Ellingson (RSSO): Ellingson hit a couple of threes in 15 minutes against Maryland and was super productive in those minutes. He was part of an Iowa group that really played nearly a flawless game. 

Dom Uhl (JR): Uhl hasn't scored in the last three games, but his hustle is always going to be valuable for Iowa. He doesn't have to do a lot for Iowa and he knows it. He takes good shots and hustles, which can be extremely annoying for the opposition.

Ryan Kriener (FR): Kriener adds great depth to Iowa's front court when they need to turn to him. He's steady around the basket and has shown the ability to step out and hit that 15 footer.

Wisconsin Starters

Zak Showalter (RSSR): He's not flashy, but he's a solid player, a good three point shooter, and a good defender for this Badger team. He's intelligent and knows when to shoot it and when to give it up. He averages 8 points per game and shoots over 38% from three point land.

Bronson Koenig (SR): He's one of the most clutch players in the Big Ten conference and is a very productive point guard. He averages over 13 points per game and really makes this Badger team go. He's also a 37% shooter from behind the arc and a 90% foul shooter. Koenig is about as solid as you can ask for if you're a coach.

Vitto Brown (SR): He's your typical role player for the Badgers. He doesn't play big minutes, but averages 7 points and 4 rebounds per game. He has the ability to score in double figures, but doesn't do it consistently considering the other players he has on his team. 

Nigel Hayes (SR): Hayes is one of the best players in the Big Ten. He can take you outside and then inside and not miss a beat. He had 22 points in the last game against Michigan State and is averaging over 13 points and 6 rebounds on the year. Hayes will be a candidate for Iowa to put at the line in late game spots considering he is just a 59% foul shooter.

Ethan Happ (RSSO): Happ is one of the more versatile players in the Big Ten. He can score, he plays great defense, and he rebounds. He's averaging 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals per game for the Badgers and is probably the best player on their team. He's also a candidate to be put at the free throw line in late game spots. He shoots just 50% from the line.

Things to Watch

Free Throws

Wisconsin is one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the Big Ten, ranking 12th out of a possible 14 teams. Given the way they have been playing lately, the charity stripe could factor into who wins this game on Thursday night. The Hawkeyes are not much better coming in at 9th out of 14. Both squads have excellent foul shooters in Koenig and Jok, but it's the surrounding guys that you'll need to keep an eye on. Free throws can win and lose you ball games and I think whichever team makes the most of their opportunities at the charity stripe is going to win the basketball game.

Pace

The Badgers have the best scoring defense in the Big Ten. That has a lot to do with their ability, schemes, and pace of play. They really like to slow you down, defend, and get a good shot on their end of the court. Iowa is pretty much the polar opposite. They have one of the best scoring offenses in the league and really like to get up and down the court. They get good shots within their offense, but if something is open off that initial break you can bet that they're going to be taking the shot. Whichever team is able to really dictate the pace-of-play is going to be the team that gives themselves a much better chance to win. If I'm the Badgers I really try to keep the Hawkeyes under wraps with their fast break. The last thing they want to see is this game get up into the 80's or 90's.

Three-Point Shooting

The Hawkeyes were absolutely scorching hot against Maryland last Saturday. They drilled 16-of-26 3-point field goals against the Terrapins and that is pretty much what buried them. Both teams really struggle defending the three point line in this one, considering they both rank in the bottom portion of the league in 3-point field goal percent defense. Iowa has some guys that can get going if you aren't careful in Bohannon and Jok, but so does Wisconsin in Koenig and Showalter. If Iowa's clicking like they did against Maryland I don't expect Wisconsin to keep up with them. The free throws and 3-pointers are what this game is really going to boil down to for me. Which team can execute and make their open shots?

Predictions

It's hard to bet against the Badgers when they're playing at the Kohl Center. They've been so tough there over the years coached by Bo Ryan and now Greg Gard, but I'm going to do it here. They are losers of four out of their last five and really have just been struggling when teams they should not struggle with. I expected Hayes to have a better year than he is having and they are not nearly as deep as I once thought they'd be. Iowa is on a little two game winning streak and is about as confident as ever coming off the win over Maryland in College Park. A young, confident team that can score at will is not really something you want to see coming into your building if you're the Badgers. Give me Iowa tonight.

Iowa 81 (22)Wisconsin 72


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