The Badgers will travel to Iowa this week in hopes of extending their four-game winning streak, as the Hawkeyes seek revenge from a 75-71 loss at the Kohl Center in January.
The last time the teams battled, Wisconsin (21-5, 8-5 Big Ten) was ranked fourth and on its way to tying the best season start in school history, while Iowa (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten) trailed in the rankings at 22nd and had already suffered 2 losses. Now the Hawkeyes, ranked 15th, hope to defend their place on the AP Top 25 Poll at home against the No. 16 Badgers.
Head coach Bo Ryan addressed the teams’ switched placements in a press conference Tuesday.
“From the time when I was an assistant, I’ve never seen [the conference] as competitive,” Ryan said. “That top-half, bottom-half can change.”
The Badgers’ will need to shut down the Hawkeyes’ offense, which had four players score in double digits in its last game against Penn State. Wisconsin will need to watch for Iowa seniors Roy Devyn Marble and Melsahn Basabe, who racked up 16 and 15 points, respectively, against Penn State.
In their last match up, the Badgers held Basabe to a scoreless game, but Marble was the leading scorer with 32 of the Hawkeyes’ 71 points. Marble is the only player in the Big Ten to score more than 10 points in each conference game this season.
While discussing his mentality for the upcoming match-up in Iowa, Ryan said, “As coaches, we always respect our opponents. To not respect your opponent only causes you problems. [The Hawkeyes] are aggressive to the glass and they’re deep.”
Iowa has no easy battle when it comes to defending Wisconsin. In their last four games, the Badgers have had four different leading scorers in Sam Dekker, Nigel Hayes, Ben Brust and Frank Kaminsky. This leaves the Buckeyes in the tough position of covering all aspects of the floor.
“Michigan was really concentrating on eliminating any of our outside shots,” Ryan said, addressing how his team attacks opponents’ weak spots. “Therefore, the driving lines were wide open, and Frank recognized that.”
Ryan was referring to Kaminsky’s performance against Michigan on Sunday with 25 points and 11 rebounds, his best since November. However, 7-foot junior forward Kaminsky will be matched against 7-foot-1 sophomore center Adam Woodbury, coming off a win against Penn State with 14 points and seven rebounds.
The last time the two faced each other, Kaminsky dominated with 15 points compared to Woodbury’s two. Kaminsky, who averages 13 points per game and is known to sink three-pointers, has a distinct advantage over Woodbury’s average 5.7 points per game. Another notable presence, Hayes averages 7.9 points per game. The Badgers will need to work it in the paint as they did in Michigan to expose the Hawkeyes’ weakness.
Regarding the Badgers hitting the road for Iowa, Ryan did not seem concerned.
“We’ve been a decent road team year in and year out. I don’t see our guys going on the road and not feeling that they can get it done,” he said. “It’s a state of mind. It’s how you prepare, and if you believe then you have a chance.”
The Badgers and Hawkeyes will tip-off at 11 a.m. Saturday in Iowa City, Iowa. The game will be broadcast by ESPN2 and Badger Sports Network.