|Who:||Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Wisconsin Badgers|
|When:||Tuesday Jan 20, 9:00 p.m. ET|
|Where:||Kohl Center, Madison, WI|
|KenPom Rank:||Iowa - 37; Wisconsin - 6|
|KenPom Line:||Wisconsin -10|
I salivate over match ups like these. Everyone knows the class of the Big Ten is Wisconsin without a debate. The No. 2 spot in the conference, while currently held by Maryland in my mind, is still up for grabs. Even though personnel wise, Ohio State is the second best team, this may is the closest matchup that can be thrown at Wisconsin in the Big Ten when looking at positions 1-5.
These two square off in Iowa City in only 11 days, but this will be a huge litmus test to see if Iowa can finally get over the proverbial hump that's haunted this team for quite some time. The last three times these two squared off in Madison, a pair of four point wins for the Badgers and an Iowa win by seven have been the result. This is going to be fun!
I thought Michigan State was turning the corner and would keep last week's bout at Maryland close. The outside shooting efforts from Melo Trimble show just how lethal this youngster is and keeps proving why the Terps are a threat this year. I was surprised Michigan State did keep it as close as they did in the first half that saw Trimble throw in 21 of his 24 in the first 20 minutes. Flip that M upside down and what does it say? W.
Tale Of The Tape
Iowa (13-5, 4-1 Big Ten)
I've kept my eye on the Hawkeyes this year. I didn't know how much the offense would pick up, especially after that clunker against Iowa State earlier in the non-conference, but they have an interesting team for this reason. It's like the Kobe Bryant theory: When he doesn't play, it opens up the offense to explore many different options. Illinois has gone through the same transition this year without senior guard Rayvonte Rice for the last couple games, but there seems to be a lot more cohesion in the Iowa offense with the void left by Roy Devyn Marble. As the year has progressed, junior Jarrod Uthoff has gained confidence as the second scorer to Aaron White. That kind of production will be needed In Madtown for a Hawkeye win.
Player to watch: Junior C Adam Woodbury (7.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg)
Woodbury was my player to watch back when Iowa took on ISU. This is why the match up with Wisconsin is a mirror image. He can play away from the basket and that will certainly help bringing Frank Kaminsky out of the paint for Iowa driving lanes. The former top-100 recruit has to hold his own defensively as well and must have more than six rebounds to limit second chance opportunities for the Badgers. These two going at it may determine who walks out of the Kohl Center victorious.
Wisconsin (16-2, 4-1)
This is a team dealing with a little uncertainty right now. Kaminsky has dealt with his own injury problems and senior guard Traevon Jackson will not be available with a fractured foot. No one in the country thought the first conference loss come in the RAC, but this team regrouped nicely over the last couple of days. Kaminsky had 22 & 5 in his return against Nebraska and five Badgers scored in double digits. The 'next man up' mantra has served its purpose for Bo Ryan and no one expects it to change in Jackson's absence.
Player to watch: Sophomore G Bronson Koenig (5.2 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 2.1 apg)
Koenig played 37 minutes in the first game replacing Jackson and had 11 points with four rebounds. The biggest thing for him is to utilize the tools around him. He only had one assist, but this team thrives on a lot of quality perimeter oriented passes that lead to post feeds or driving lanes. Don't try to be Traevon Jackson. Be the best Bronson Koenig possible and the Badgers will be alright moving forward.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 78, Iowa 74
Let's keep the four point decisions going. I don't think any team pulls away by any sizable amount because these are as two similarly coached and personnel teams as there are in the Big Ten. If Mike Gesell can win the point guard battle, slow the game and hurry up Koenig in the process, don't be surprised if Iowa walks out with a win.
Other Big Ten games to watch this week:
Tuesday, Jan 20
- Minnesota at Nebraska
Wednesday, Jan 21
- Purdue at Illinois
Thursday, Jan 22
- Ohio State at Northwestern
- No. 13 Maryland at No. 23 Indiana
Saturday, Jan 24
- Illinois at Minnesota
- No. 25 Iowa at Purdue
- Michigan State at Nebraska
- No. 6 Wisconsin at Michigan