The Iowa Hawkeyes (7-2, 0-0) are back in Carver-Hawkeye Arena to kick off conference play against the Wisconsin Badgers (7-2, 1-0). They remain the Wisconsin Badgers.
The had a rollicking feast week by dragging Dayton (one-point win), Kansas (one-point overtime loss), and Southern Cal (five-point win) into the mud in the Battle For Atlantis. There was just one instance in the three games where a team scored more than 1 point/possession: Wisconsin in their third place game over USC. Yuck.
And really, that remains the story of their season. Only three other times have they averaged more than 1 PPP and hilariously, they lost one of those three - Wake Forest in Madison. To their credit, they’ve played a top 25ish schedule so far according to KenPom (vs. Iowa at 82) and five of those teams have had top 50 defenses which averages out to 34th vs. Iowa at 52.
Still, Iowa is a team defined by their offense while Wisconsin is defined by their ability to navigate rock fights. Despite sharing the Big Ten regular season crown last year, they only briefly snuck inside KenPom’s top 25 teams a couple times, mainly because they won a boatload of close games. 12-3 in games decided by 5 or less points last season and 4-2 to start this season.
AP voters appreciated that, of course, because wins matter and their top 15 ranking from January-onward was largely deserved even if I’m still mad the game which launched them up the polls also featured the game which sealed Johnny Davis’ getting conference player of the year. He made 17 threes in 18 games after being ranked 8th on 1/10/2022.
Anyways, Davis is gone (his twin brother isn’t) and so is Brad Davison. Same shit, different guys. Except for Tyler Wahl. And Steven Crowl. And Chucky Hepburn who I would love in any other context except for the fact he wears Badger red.
I should probably go to therapy to work this out.
Below is another thought, some additional details on Wisconsin, and how to watch.
Does Iowa continue the identity established against Iowa State? Without Kris Murray, Iowa committed themselves to the defensive end by virtue of preventing easy shots & clamping down the boards. The Hawks posted their second best per-possession defense of the season and allowed their third best effective field goal percentage, buoyed by 3/22 shooting from Iowa State from deep.
Unlike the Cyclones, though, Wisconsin has three really good shooters on their roster in Hepburn, transfer Max Klesmit, and freshman Connor Essegian. Iowa can’t let any of those three guys loose or it will allow them to keep pace with Iowa’s offense. Stylistically, the Badgers don’t attack the offensive glass to help set their defense but have capable rebounders on their roster in Wahl & Crowl & Davis. They can (and will) generate second looks with timely offensive rebounding, if necessary.
Offensively, it will be interesting to see if Filip Rebrača can have the same offensive impact going against Crowl he did against ISU’s bigs. If Iowa reverts to iso-heavy offense after as good a passing game as they had against ISU (despite turnovers), it will spell doom against Wisconsin’s pack-line defense. Iowa probably needs someone to hit threes over the top of it to open it up a bit.
Still, I want to see them attacking in the rare instances when driving lanes open up and getting shots (or fouls) at the rim. If Iowa gets the same whistle they got against Iowa State which kept the game in check, it’s to the Hawks’ benefit in a big way.
About the Badgers
Season averages: Team / Opponent
PPG: 66.1 / 59.8
RPG: 33.9 / 36.0
APG: 12.2 / 9.2
TOPG: 10.2 / 13.3
FG%: 40.1% / 40.5%
3P%: 37.0% / 29.2%
Greg Gard: 8th season at Wisconsin, 8th overall
Record: 151-80 (.654) overall, 73-44 (.624) in conference play
PPG: Tyler Wahl 13.9; Chucky Hepburn 12.6
RPG: Wahl 6.9 (1.4 ORPG); Steven Crowl 6.7 (1.6 ORPG)
APG: Crowl 3.0; Hepburn 2.6
FG%: Connor Essegian 44.4%; Crowl 43.3%
3P%: Essegian 48.7%; Hepburn 47.7%
Yes, that’s right...Essegian and Hepburn’s field goal percentage goes down by adding two-pointers into the fold
Presumed starters ($) & 2022-23 stats:
Same starting five every game this season
G - #23 Chucky Hepburn, So, 6’2”, 205 lbs: 6.2 PPG, 5.0 APG, 33.3% FG, 22.2% 3P, 25.8 MPG
G - #11 Max Klesmit, Jr, 6’3”, 200 lbs: 21.3 PPG, 3.3 APG, 4.3 RPG, 46.5% FG, 26.7% 3P, 32.7 MPG
G - #2 Jordan Davis, Jr, 6’4”, 200 lbs: 5.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 37.5% FG, 35.0% 3P, 22.0 MPG
F - #5 Tyler Wahl, Sr, 6’9”, 225 lbs: 9.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.0 ORPG, 30.4% FG, 21.4% 3P, 23.2 MPG
F - #22 Steven Crowl, Jr, 7’0”, 245 lbs: 5.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.0 ORPG, 47.6% FG, 21.8 MPG
Last 5 games:
W - v Maryland, 64-59
W - at Marquette, 80-77 OT
L - v Wake Forest, 78-75
W - v USC, 64-59
L - v Kansas, 69-68 OT
2023 KenPom: ($)
AdjEfficiency: +15.37 (42)
AdjOffense: 106.5 (96)
AdjDefense: 91.1 (18)
AdjTempo: 63.9 (335)
AdjEfficiency: +15.34 (37)
AdjOffense: 109.4 (62)
AdjDefense: 94.0 (34)
AdjTempo: 66.5 (215)
Bart Torvik: 38
Evan Miyakawa: 41
How to Watch
Date: Sunday, December 11th
Time: 5:30 pm CT
Opponent: Wisconsin Badgers (7-2, 1-0); Big Ten Conference; Madison, WI
Location: Carver Hawkeye Arena; Iowa City, IA
Radio: Hawkeye Sports Network (Gary Dolphin & Bob Hansen)
TV: Big Ten Network (Jeff Levering & Robbie Hummel)
Streaming: FOX Sports Live