Breakdown: No.16 Wisconsin at No.15 Iowa

On a four game winning streak, No.16 Wisconsin needs to likely win out to have a chance to earn a piece of the Big Ten conference regular season title, a tough task with the Badgers head to No.15 Iowa Saturday morning. BadgerNation breaks down the matchup.

No.16 Wisconsin (21-5, 8-5 Big Ten) at No.15 Iowa (18-6, 8-4 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Saturday, February 22, 11 a.m. Central

Arena –Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,400)

Television -Big Ten Network (Bob Wischusen and Dan Dakich)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Series tied 79-79 (Iowa leads 50-26 in Iowa City)

Last Meeting -Wisconsin won, 75-71, on January 5, 2014 in Madison

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Senior Guard, 13.0 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Junior Guard, 10.7 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 13.5 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-3 Junior Guard, 8.9 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Junior Forward, 13.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

10 Nigel Hayes (6-7 Freshman Forward, 7.9 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-9 Junior Forward, 2.6 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-3 Freshman Guard, 2.9 ppg)

Iowa Probable Starters

1 Melsahn Basabe (6-7 Senior Forward, 8.1 ppg)

4 Roy Devyn Marble (6-6 Senior Guard, 16.4 ppg)

10 Mike Gesell (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 7.8 ppg)

30 Aaron White (6-9 Junior Forward, 13.2 ppg)

34 Adam Woodbury (7-1 Sophomore Center, 5.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

0 Gabriel Olaseni (6-10 Junior Center, 6.8 ppg)

2 Josh Oglesby (6-5 Junior Guard, 5.5 ppg)

3 Peter Jok (6-6 Freshman Guard, 5.0 ppg)

5 Anthony Clemmons (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 2.9 ppg)

15 Zach McCabe (6-7 Senior Forward, 6.6 ppg)

20 Jarrod Uthoff (6-9 Sophomore Forward, 8.3 ppg)

Last Time Out

In just four days, Wisconsin basketball avenged two of its most disappointing losses of the season. And there's no question that this was of the most satisfying wins of them all, especially since the Badgers' defense is starting to find a groove.

Winning its sixth game against an Associated Press top 25 team, the most in the nation, No.21 Wisconsin led wire-to-wire in a 75-62 victory over No.15 Michigan at Crisler Center Sunday afternoon.

Junior Frank Kaminsky registered his first career double-double in the opening minutes of the first half and finished with 25 points, 17 coming in the second half and 10 in the final six minutes after Wisconsin (21-5, 8-5 Big Ten) saw its 16 point lead cut to three.

Sam Dekker gutted through a sprained hand to score 15 points and Josh Gasser added 13 points, including going 3-for-4 from the field. Through their difficult February stretch, the Badgers have won four straight – the longest winning streak in the conference – and find themselves two games back of the Wolverines (18-7, 10-3 Big Ten) and Michigan State, who suffered a 60-51 home upset to Nebraska Sunday.

Averaging 81.5 points per game at home, Michigan was held to a season-low 62 points at home on 40 percent shooting. It was just the Wolverines' fourth home loss in the last three seasons.

"It was probably our best game of the year in terms of what we did against a real good opponent on their court," said assistant close Gary Close. "I thought we played very unselfishly and played Wisconsin basketball right from the start. I thought we were sharp right from the beginning."

The Wolverines cut an 18-point deficit to three in the second half, but Kaminsky went on a 7-2 run after that, helping Wisconsin regain control for good. UW built the lead back up to 15 by making its last 11 free throws and committing a season-low two turnovers.

"That was impressive as anything," said Close. "They made a great run. The place is going crazy and we just kind of regroup, and did the things we had done leading up to that. I thought that was a classic Wisconsin game."

The Wolverines got 25 points from Cavis LeVert, who almost signal handedly brought Michigan back in the second half, but the Badgers frustrated Nik Stauskas, who managed only 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Stauskas torched the Badgers in Madison with a game-high 23 points, including scoring the last 11 points.

"We made them earn most of their points," said Close. "LeVert got loose a couple times, but he made some tough shots as well. That's what great players do and that's why you have to try to force him to do. We did a good job on Stauskas. We didn't let him go crazy.

In much the same way Wisconsin established its dominance against Minnesota Thursday, the Badgers' 14-4 run over the first five-plus minutes was set up by touches in the post.

Wisconsin started 6-for-7 from the field, including making six straight attempts after its opening-possession miss, and finished the first half outscoring Michigan 16-4 in the paint, going 8-for-19 on such shot attempts. UW finished with 32 points in the paint compared to 14 for Michigan.

- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com

Last Meeting

MADISON - Getting beaten on the boards, outmuscled in the low post and being tested like they hadn't been tested all season, Wisconsin appeared to be a possession away from losing

Then Iowa coach Fran McCaffery lost his cool when the officiating became too much for him, and the calm, cool and collected Badgers took control.

McCaffery's tirade turned the tide for Wisconsin, as the Badgers ripped off a 17-8 run following McCaffery's ejection and held on to earn a 75-71 victory at the Kohl Center Sunday night.

"We haven't really been in that type of situation much this year, so it was great to see us respond the way we did," said junior Josh Gasser. "Obviously that quick turn of events sure helped out a lot. We really got to see the grit, toughness and composure that we have as a team."

Off to its best start since the 1913-14 season, Wisconsin (15-0, 2-0 Big Ten) got 19 points from senior Ben Brust – all coming in the second half – along with 14 points from Gasser and at least eight points from four other players in a wild, whistled-filled contest that was elevated by that quick sequence of events with 11:52 remaining.

No.22 Iowa (12-3, 1-1) led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but were trying to hold on 41-39 edge despite starting the second half 2-for-14 from the floor, a stark turnaround from the 46.9 percent it shot in the second half.

That might have been the spark that lit McCaffery's fuse and after Gab Olaseni was whistled for Iowa's fifth team foul in a span of 3:40, McCaffery lost his cool. Admitting he was pushing for the first technical, which was given to him, McCaffery was shown the gate after bumping into another official as he went on his tirade at midcourt.

"The momentum was shifting, clearly, for a variety of reasons," said McCaffery. "Some of which is under our control, some of it's not. If I am going to get a T, typically, there is still 12, 13 minutes to go. There's time for us to figure out if we're going to play better, are we going to play tougher, are we going to play smarter than we were playing."

McCaffery denied at the time that the technicals were the difference in the game, while Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan thought the Badgers were making a push leading into that brouhaha, cutting a nine-point lead down to two in a four minute stretch early.

"When things like that happen in the game, you just go to the line, shoot your free throws and keep playing," said Ryan.

Brust admitted the momentum did swing from that point, starting with him making what he called the four hardest free throws of his life to give the Badgers their first lead since 3-2, sparking an 18-8 run over the next four minutes that re-energized the building.

A lot of the attention coming into Sunday was Badgers-turned-Hawkeyes forward Jarrod Uthoff (six points in 16 minutes) playing his first game since transferring from Wisconsin at the end of the 2011. In the end it was the Hawkeye-turned-Badgers guard Brust that made the difference.

Brust went 5-for-6 in the second half, 3-for-3 from 3-point range and 6-for-6 from the free throw line, helping the Badgers shoot 52.2 percent collectively as a team.

- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com

Series Notes

Wisconsin has won 15 of the last 20 matchups, including two straight. The Badgers two recent wins snapped an Iowa 3-game win streak from 2011-13.

? Bo Ryan is 16-7 all-time against the Hawkeyes, including a mark of 5-5 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Last season, UW and Iowa split a pair of match-ups, with each team winning on its home floor.

The last 6 meetings between Wisconsin and Iowa have been decided by an average of 3.8 points per game, including a pair of overtime games.

UW assistant coach Gary Close was an assistant at Iowa from 1986-99 ... UW senior Zach Bohannon, is from Marion, Iowa and his father, Gordy, was a quarterback on Iowa's 1982 Rose Bowl team ... Iowa sophomore Jarrod Uthoff spent one season on the Badgers' roster, redshirting in 2011-12.

Wisconsin Notes

UW boasts its most productive offense in 19 years, but is also 2nd in the Big Ten in scoring D (63.3 ppg), 2nd in the nation in fewest TOs (8.3 per game) and 2nd in the NCAA in fewest fouls (15.1 per game).

Wisconsin is 9-2 away from home this year, going a perfect 3-0 in neutral games and 6-2 in true road venues. No Big Ten team has more road wins that UW.

Senior Ben Brust needs just 2 points to become the 38th member of Wisconsin's 1,000-point club. He would be the 12th Badgers player to reach 1,000 points in the Bo Ryan era (13 seasons).

Dekker is one of just 3 players in the Big Ten averaging at least 13.5 ppg and 6 rpg (along with MSU's Adreian Payne and NU's Drew Crawford).

During Big Ten play, the Badgers have five players ranked among the conference's top 30 scorers. No other team in the Big Ten has more than three.

Iowa Notes

Saturday will only be Iowa's second game in 14 days after Tuesday's postponement.

Iowa's six losses have come to teams ranked in the top25 team by a combined 21 points, including two in overtime.

Marble is the only active player, and one of nine in the country, to amass over 1,500 points, 350 assists, 150 steals and 425 rebounds in a career. Marble is also the only Big Ten player to score over 10 points in every conference game this season.

Iowa is one of three teams (Villanova and Wichita State) in the official NCAA RPI top 25 not to have a lost to a team outside the RPI top 20.

Prediction

As he walked off the court and into the joyous visiting locker room at the Crisler Center, Josh Gasser finally knew what it felt like to deliver a solid defensive effort.

Winning back-to-back "revenge" games last week against Minnesota and Michigan, UW coach Bo Ryan was adamant that he didn't change anything in terms of his team's preparation, thoughts Gasser echoed earlier this week.

During that skid in January, Wisconsin was trying to put a band aid on a leaky dam. If one game the low-post defense was nonexistent, the next game would be failing to defend the mid-range jumper or hitting shots or finishing games. Everything that could go wrong did as the Badgers fell from third in the country to unranked.

It's a stretch that likely took Wisconsin out of the running for its first regular season conference title in six seasons, but one that has made the Badgers mentally strong enough to win the Big Ten tournament, or even make that elusive Final Four.

"I think we're better defensively, just in terms of understanding what needs to be done," said Gasser, comparing the team now to when it was 16-0. "We're a pretty young team, so we had to go through some growing points. We had to see some mistakes on film and have the coaches correct it. Guys have learned. Guys have adjusted."

That's evident just by the numbers in the paint. After routinely giving up numbers in the high 30s or low 40s last month, the Badgers gave up only 20 points against Minnesota and only 14 against Michigan. The Wolverines also scored zero points off turnovers or in transition.

Wisconsin's performance on Sunday at Michigan might have been the best the Badgers have played all season on both ends of the floor, a performance they will need to replicate tomorrow.

After playing the conference's top offense in terms of field goal percentage, the Badgers must not find a way to stop the league's best scoring offense, as Iowa forces teams to make the right reads and rotations to defend five legitimate scorers on the court.

Whether it's in transition, its offensive system, from the free throw line, off offensive rebounding, driving to the paint or hitting the outside jump shot, Iowa can score effectively in a variety of different ways, which is why its 83.6 points per game is six points more than second-place Michigan State, not to mention leading the league with a plus-16.4 scoring average.

"They're probably as big of challenge as anybody in the league," said assistant coach Gary Close. "They score in a bunch of different ways. It's a hard team to guard because they have a lot of different guys and they can do a lot of different of things. You just try to hope to not let them go crazy."

That was the problem in the first half of the last meeting between the two teams, as Iowa shot 46.9 percent in the first half and built an 11-point lead. Although the Badgers managed a comeback, the Hawkeyes still outscored UW 36-12 in the paint and 23-7 off second-chance points. Iowa leads the Big Ten with 43 rebounds per game.

In this season's initial meeting, the Badgers erased an 11-point second-half deficit by going 6-for-9 from 3-point range and 21-for-26 at the free throw line in the second half of that game. Ben Brust scored a team-high 19 points (all in the 2nd half), has averaged 18.5 ppg and 5.0 rpg in his last two games against Iowa and has scored in double figures in four of five appearances against the Hawkeyes.

Brust – the one-time Iowa signee - is probable to play after falling hard on his back at the end of practice Wednesday and missing Thursday's practice.

If Wisconsin doesn't have Brust (highly unlikely), its odds of winning go down dramatically. Iowa is a tough, loud arena to play in when the Hawkeyes are good, and this game means a lot to Iowa in terms of conference tournament and national tournament seeding.

Iowa should have won in Madison last month. They should win this month by seven.

Worgull's Record: 17-9

Points off Prediction: 243 (9.3 per game)


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