Wow, that was fun. Like really fun. Watching Iowa dismantle Maryland like they did was invigorating and really gets me amped up to see what this young team can accomplish in the years to come. The computer told us to watch this game and said Iowa had a chance. Shame on me for not fully believing it. But a huge road win against a ranked Terrapin team feels like just the right kind of momentum-builder that we need heading into the last few days of Big Ten play before the conference tourney. And right on cue, a flailing and wounded Wisconsin team is next up on the agenda. Iowa will head to Madison to try to knock of its second ranked opponent on the road in as many games.
True to form, the Badgers are still playing hellacious defense. But it seems that it has not been enough to stymie their opponents of late. Paired with their relatively low-power offense, this has spelled disaster, as they have dropped 4 of their last five games, splitting their two home stands. While he may not be leading Wisconsin in scoring, Nigel Hayes is still a force to be reckoned with, same with Ethan Happ and Bronson Koenig. Together, those three amount to nearly all of the Badgers’ scoring. And even though he plays for the bad guys, it’s hard for me to not like Hayes.
But I’ll tell you who I like a lot more. Jordan Bohannon. I can’t shoot 80% from three in an empty gym, let alone in the heat of a game. But that’s exactly what Bohannon did against Maryland. And that’s going to be the key to winning this game against the Badgers. A shooting threat not named Peter Jok made every Hawkeye on the court immediately more open. I don’t expect a repeat of his performance against Wisconsin, but I do expect the Badgers to loosen up their work on Jok to pay more attention to Bohannon, which is a welcome change.
A quick look at the five factors graph pretty much sums up the Wisconsin team of late. Most of their scoring is coming in the paint and quickly into the shot clock. While they have been good with offensive rebounding, a lot of that is because they aren’t hitting shots at a great clip. That said, Iowa is going to need to pull down the rebounds to make this game close, and that has been one of the Hawks’ weaknesses this season. But don’t get too down, friends. H.A.W.K.E.Y.E.S. has some interesting thoughts. As of this moment, Wisconsin should also be officially put on upset alert, with the computer calling 84-82, Wisconsin. Now, I know that’s not exactly what you want to hear and isn’t a clear win predicted. But Wisconsin hasn’t scored 84 points or more since they played Ohio State back in mid-January. And even that was a bit of a fluke. In fact, in all of their games this season, the Badgers have breached the 84 mark only 5 times (shockingly, none of those in their three overtime games this season). Iowa’s defense isn’t consistent, and it isn’t even great at it’s best. But as they say in psychology “sometimes good enough is good enough.” If Iowa can play average-to-good on defense, then there is no way on earth Wisconsin sniffs the 80-point mark. That alone makes me say that this is H.A.W.K.E.Y.E.S. way of telling us that Iowa is winning this match-up.
Bench running out of fingers for Bohannon's 3s pic.twitter.com/6BUBPHPmOu— Heavens! (@HeavensHawkeye) February 26, 2017