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#5 Hawkeyes close out regular season with #25 Wisconsin

Luka Garza, Jordan Bohannon, Austin Ash, & Michael Baer will be honored for senior day

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

What a regular season. We had highs and lows and COVID-19 delays (none Iowa-related thank goodness) and have finally reached the end.

Your #5 Iowa Hawkeyes (19-7, 13-6) take on the reeling #25 Wisconsin Badgers (16-10, 10-9). The Badgers are 2-5 in their last seven games, with those wins coming at Nebraska and Northwestern.

They’re ranked 12th according to KenPom, on the back of tight losses in a tough conference (8 v. Michigan, 5 v. Illinois, 4 at Purdue) with their NET less forgiving and in line with the AP voters at 25. Their best win according to their team sheet is a home win against Loyola Chicago in December. More recently? It’s a road victory over the much improved Maryland January.

The stakes for Iowa are obvious, especially without knowing the results later today. A win and the Hawks are the 3 seed in the conference tournament and a near lock for a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. A loss could slide them as low as 5* (if Ohio State and Purdue win, which KenPom has as a 34% likelihood) while slotting Wisconsin into the 6 seed. Wisconsin may move to the 7 seed in the conference tournament if Minnesota beats Rutgers and Maryland wins. Iowa would get whomever advances out of Maryland, Minnesota, and Nebraska in such a scenario.

Edit: Iowa’s playing between the 3 & 4 seed tomorrow. Win and it’s the 3, lose and it’s the 4 (Purdue gets the 3).

So that’s a lot on possibilities which may not be relevant by the 11:30 AM tip tomorrow. Moving on...

Three guys

D’Mitrik Trice (G, 6’0”, 184 lbs)

vs. Iowa: 11 points, 3/15 shooting (1/8 from deep), 9 assists, 2 turnovers
since Iowa: 17.3 PPG, 50% shooting (52% 3P%), 3.7 APG, 2.3 TPG

Outside of an Isaiah Moss at Minnesota finish to the Illinois game, Trice has been, largely ice cold. During the last 2:16 of that game, he scored 19 points on 5/5 from three. That means he made 6/16 threes in the other 105 minutes he’s played in the last 3 games. He’s torched Iowa before and certainly could again, but it’s been a rough ride for Trice for much of the last 3 games.

Micah Potter (F, 6’10”, 248 lbs)

vs. Iowa: 23 points, 8/15 shooting (3/6 from deep), 11 rebounds (6 offensive)
since Iowa: 15.0 PPG, 60% shooting (43% 3P%), 5.7 RPG (2.3 ORPG)

I don’t understand the Nate Reuvers v. Micah Potter dynamic. Potter has been the better player for much of the last dozen games or so, yet Reuvers has started the last seven games?

Brad Davison (G, 6’4”, 202 lbs)

vs. Iowa: 15 points, 5/11 shooting (5/8 from deep), 2 rebounds, 0 assists
since Iowa: 10.3 PPG, 26% shooting (29% 3P%), 4.3 RPG, 2.7 APG

Davison is shooting 22% on the season from inside the arc and 37% from three. It’s a genuinely disturbing differential I hope is not rectified tomorrow.

Three questions

Can Jordan Bohannon continue his incredible shooting? Thursday’s 8/12 showing was one of the best Carver-Hawkeye has ever seen and tied Bo up with Duane Washington with 68 threes on the season to lead the conference. (Joe Wieskamp is 3rd with 64) It also put him 22 back from Jon Diebler’s career conference mark at 352.

Conference numbers aside, Iowa is 5-0 when a single Hawkeye has made six or more threes in a game this season and four of those games have been with Bohannon leading the charge. Bo was also the Hawk who has made that many threes in 13 of the 23 over the last decade and Iowa is 8-5 in those games including wins in the last six instances.

Simply put, when he is feeling it he changes the dynamic of the Hawkeye offense, mitigates any deficiency he has on defense, and makes the Hawks deliriously enjoyable. It would be a delightful storyline for him to torch the Badgers in his final game at Carver, considering the connections his family has to the program.

What’s the status of CJ Fredrick? The math has been covered elsewhere but bears repeating: Iowa’s 2-4 when he doesn’t play in the second half this season. Iowa’s only wins have been by 30 & 38 points against Michigan State and Nebraska, two bad teams. Wisconsin, for all their faults, is not in the same neighborhood as those two so a win without Fredrick might be a bit surprising.

Yet Iowa would be wise to ensure he’s 100%, even if that meant holding him out, considering how much better he looked over the last few games at full health and the long view of the season, as it will be defined by postseason play.

But if he’s there tomorrow, he’s had success against Wisconsin with 9 points & 4 assists in this season’s prior meeting and 17 points in last year’s victory.

What does Luka bring in his curtain call? Bohannon & Garza aren’t getting the send off they deserve but that doesn’t mean they won’t bring the thunder in his home finale.

Yet Iowa has struggled in past senior days, going 5-5 during Fran’s tenure. The best win was in his first year against a top 10 Purdue team. So it’s been a little while since they’ve put together a really good performance against a good team. The other four wins have come against subpar Nebraska, Northwestern, and Penn State teams.

Luka is different than any past senior, though, and carries a will to win few Hawkeyes before them have possessed. He’s had success against Wisconsin, averaging 25.5 points and 13 rebounds in the last two contests, both wins. With all principals back, perhaps it feels overconfident to suspect a similar result.

The Hawkeyes want to keep the good times rolling. The way they’ve played much of the last month has been among the best teams in the country...on both sides of the court. If they hope to have a couple long March runs, they need to continue to show what they have the last eight games.

They’re up to the challenge. Will the Badgers?