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FRANALYSIS: WISCONSIN JUST TOO MUCH FOR IOWA TO HANDLE

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The Hawkeyes played the Badgers much closer this time around, but this game still never felt within reach.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa and Wisconsin met a little less than two weeks ago, and it ended in a blowout. Wisconsin couldn't miss, Iowa couldn't buy a basket. Yada, yada, yada you all remember the game. I don't think we need to relive that.

This time around, though, Iowa gave the Badgers a more competitive game. The Hawkeyes were within striking distance all game long and just needed to make their move at some point.

But while this was a more competitive game than the previous match up, a lot of the same things went wrong for Iowa and they never really felt like they were going to win the game, even when they were down just 5 points with 13 minutes left to play.

The first half saw Iowa employ one of their best offensive strategies of the year, attacking the rim and taking a majority of their shots from near there. As a result, the Hawkeyes torched the nets to the tune of an outstanding 1.38 points per possession (PPP) before halftime. The only problem? Wisconsin was averaging 1.61 PPP thanks to the same things that we saw in the previous match up: offensive rebounding and three point shooting.

Nonetheless, Iowa was still only down 6 at halftime and was still within striking distance. Wisconsin even invited them to close the gap, as the threes that were falling in the first half went quiet for about 11 minutes. But Iowa couldn't take advantage of the scoring lull that Wisconsin dipped into, as they decided to undergo a scoring draught themselves. Iowa would wake up toward the end of the game, but so would Wisconsin, who would go on to win by by double-digits.

Basically, Wisconsin was just too much for Iowa to handle.

quarters

Four Factors in Review

1st half

First Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.38, Wisconsin 1.61

First Half Possessions: 26

2nd half

Second Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 0.88, Wisconsin 1.04

Second Half Possessions: 31

4 factors

Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.11, Wisconsin 1.30

Possessions: 57

Shooting

Like I mentioned above, the first half offensive show for Iowa was one of the best we had witnessed all season long. Possession after possession, the Hawkeyes seemed to get the ball to the rim with ease. For whatever reason, it wasn't paying off with trips to the foul line, but it did pay off to the tune of 22 points near the rim before halftime. And knocking down 3 of their 4 three point attempts helped them actually outshoot Wisconsin in the first half with an eFG% of 70%.

Of course, Iowa wasn't able to replicate that same performance in the second half and the shots near the rim that were plentiful before halftime, turned out to be a bit more scarce after.

shots

Needless to say, when this Iowa team takes almost half of its attempts from the most inefficient place on the floor, good things rarely happen. And thanks to the shot distribution in the second half, Iowa's eFG% plummeted to 32.6%. Granted, they were getting to the free throw line at a much higher clip in the second half, so they were getting the ball to the basket more than this chart shows, thanks to drawing fouls. However, that still doesn't discount the fact that Iowa shot more long twos in the second half.

Here is the overall shot chart for Iowa:

iowa

(Shot chart courtesy of Shot Analytics.)

As for Wisconsin, they also shot much better in the first half than the second half. The first 20 minutes of the game saw the Badgers outshot by the Hawkeyes, but they still held a 6-point lead at halftime, thanks to offensive rebounding and the fact that 3 > 2. Under McCaffery, Iowa has always been vulnerable to teams that shoot and make a lot of threes, since they do not follow that same philosophy. So Iowa played about as perfect a half of offense as this team could, but because Wisconsin hit 5 of their 11 threes and grabbed 7 of their 14 misses, the Hawks were down 6 poins at halftime.

In the second half, the Badgers witnessed their shot stop falling the same way the Hawkeyes did. And, as a result, both teams started relying more heavily on free throws than they had before the half.

Here is the Badgers overall shot chart:

wisconsin

So, yes, the Hawkeyes won the shooting category, but it ultimately wasn't enough to overcome Wisconsin's early three point shooting and Iowa losing the other three categories.

Advantage: Iowa

Turnovers

Honestly, turnovers probably mattered the least out of all four categories in this game. Wisconsin's first half was almost another half in which Iowa didn't force a turnover against the Badgers, but the Hawkeyes didn't really give away the rock in that timespan either. And even in the second half, when Iowa started coughing the ball up more, they were also able to cause Wisconsin to lose it too.

Iowa lost this category because they had 8 turnovers to Wisconsin's 6, but both teams only scored 8 points off each others' turnovers on the day and neither of those totals are particularly high in the first place. Of course, when you are playing the best team in the conference and one of the best teams in the nation in a 57 possession game, having two more empty possessions due to turnovers is pretty killer.

Advantage: Wisconsin

Offensive Rebounding

This was probably the most important category of the game. For the second time in a row against Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes allowed the Badgers to collect 46.9% of their misses. That's terrible. And to make things worse, Wisconsin finished the day with 16 second chance points to just 7 for Iowa. That 9-point gap just about covers Wisconsin's margin of victory.

For Iowa, Aaron White was the only person routinely grabbing defensive boards against the Badgers, while the rest of the team struggled to box out. Wisconsin isn't known for their offensive rebounding prowess, but Iowa's defensive rebounding is clearly the inferior party after watching two games.

As for the offensive glass for the Hawkeyes, they did better than they did last time against Wisconsin, but that isn't saying much. They were still below their season average, and while they didn't really need offensive rebounds in the first half, they sure as hell could have used them in the final 20 minutes of play. But at least Wisconsin is known as one of the best defensive rebounding teams around, so this isn't as frustrating as the other side of the court.

Advantage: Wisconsin

Free Throw Rate

Neither team made it to the free throw line much in the first half and neither team really needed to, as both sides were shooting well from the floor. After halftime, though, the shots stopped falling and both teams started demonstrating their ability to draw fouls.

Now, this is always an important category for Iowa since they aren't a great shooting team, but there was no advantage to be found on Saturday, as Wisconsin's starters all made multiple trips to the charity stripe. Add that to the fact that Iowa made only 13 of their 20 attempts, including the usually reliable Aaron White going 3-6, and I think that tells you just about all you need to know here.

Advantage: Wisconsin

Overall: Iowa won 1 of 4 Factors

Players

players

Frank Kaminsky took everyone to school on Saturday, finishing with 24 points and 9 rebounds.

kaminsky

The rest of Wisconsin's starters weren't half bad either, as four of the five put up at least 11 points, while Bronson Koenig still scored 8.

But what always seems to grab my attention about the adjusted game score charts is the fact that almost every other coach seems to give their starters a lot more minutes than Iowa does. Good teams like Wisconsin or Iowa State have no issue playing their starters well into 30 minutes, but Iowa rarely does that with anyone outside of White or Jarrod Uthoff. I could understand last year, where this team's tempo was so fast that Fran needed to keep guys fresh. This year, though, I'm not sure I can justify the balanced minutes on the court for this team.

As for the consistent players of the game for Iowa, Aaron White and Gabe Olaseni were the only guys who showed up in both halves. White showed no real lasting effects from the stinger he suffered last Saturday, finishing the day with 15 points on 5-11 shooting (2-3 from downtown, but just 3-6 from the line).

white

He also corralled 7 rebounds (1 offensive), and handed out 2 assists.

Olaseni also showed no real signs of being slowed by injury, as he put in work down low, scoring 12 points on 4-5 shooting (4-6 from the charity stripe).

olaseni

Per usual, he was Iowa's best offensive rebounder, hauling in 3 misses. And on the defensive end, he grabbed 2 rebounds and swatted 2 shots.

Outside of those two, Iowa had nice first halves from Jarrod Uthoff, Adam Woodbury, and Mike Gesell. However, all three cooled off considerably after halftime.

Let's wrap up with some bullet points.

  • I've talked a lot about Jarrod Uthoff and his affinity for long two point jump shots this year. Well, I finally decided to graph this out and there is a slight negative correlation between his points scored and the amount of long twos he takes this season. Now, first of all, it's not a perfectly negative correlation because you would expect that in the games in which he scores a lot of points, he is probably hitting from anywhere on the court that night. However, what I noticed is that 40% seems to be the cutoff point for him. When Uthoff takes 40% of his field goal attempts or less in the form of a long two, he averages 12.8 points per game this season. When he shoots more than 40% of his shots from out there, he is only averaging 8.6. And, in case you were wondering, 44% of his shots were from out there against Wisconsin and he scored just 9 points. Here is the chart:
uthoff

  • Gabe Olaseni is pretty clearly one of Iowa's three best players this year and I'm going to go ahead and start lobbying that he get more playing time. His playing time went from 17.5 minutes per game in November to 19.6 in December, and he ended January at 20. I'm glad Fran has rewarded him with more minutes, but he needs to be playing a lot more than just 20 minutes per game. He's the best rebounder and shot blocker on the team, and he's second to only Aaron White in the other important areas. Seriously, I love Jarrod Uthoff, but Olaseni has him beat when you take into account minutes played. Olaseni has the second highest offensive rating on the team, he is second in win shares per minute, he is also second in points per minute, and he has almost the same astronomical free throw rate that Aaron White has. I'm not saying that Gabe needs to start necessarily, but he needs to see the court way more than 20 minutes per night. I'm also not saying that Woodbury's minutes necessarily need to decrease because Iowa could dip into Dom Uhl's 11.5 minutes per game and get Olaseni into the high 20s on a nightly basis. With a much slower pace to this team than last year, there really is no excuse not to give the most minutes to your best players.
  • Gabe's 2 blocks on the day give him 38 on the season. He is currently the 32nd best shot-blocker among qualified players, according to Kenpom.
  • Was anyone surprised when Josh Gasser's off-balance three went in? Unfortunately, I wasn't.
  • I hate Wisconsin and Bo Ryan.
  • Aaron White got a late dunk to push his season total to 33 and his dunk streak to 9 games. Here is the updated table:
Aaron White Dunk-O-Meter Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Career
Dunks 32 56 51 33 172
Field Goals Made 136 140 143 91 510
Dunk Rate 23.5% 40.0% 35.7% 36.3% 33.7%

I know losing three straight games sucks, but let's keep some perspective here: Two of those games came against the best team in the conference and one of the best teams in the nation, while the other loss came to a decent team on the road without Aaron White. We knew that these last four games would be difficult, and at least Iowa beat Ohio State even if that feels like it was months ago.

Now, though, begins the easier portion of the schedule. The Hawkeyes get Maryland next weekend, but they also get a very beatable Michigan team this Thursday and then a whole host of teams they can beat. And, for what it's worth, Kenpom has Iowa favored in all but three of their remaining games.

So, again, keep some perspective here. A three game losing streak sucks, but the rest of the season is very manageable.