The No. 25 University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (16-10, 10-9 Big Ten) is set for a rematch with the No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes (19-7, 13-6 ) Saturday in Iowa City.

After a strong start to the season, Wisconsin has gone 7-8 since the calendar flipped to 2021. To be fair, the Badgers are playing in the toughest conference in college basketball which features three teams ranked in the top five of the AP Poll.

Seven of those eight losses were against ranked Big Ten opponents. Four of those losses were against Illinois and Michigan — teams which are both projected as No. 1 seeds, according to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi.

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Wisconsin has played the 12th hardest schedule in the nation according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI). All 14 teams in the Big Ten are ranked in the top 26 for toughest schedules, including 11 Big Ten teams in the top 13.

It has been a blood bath during the Big Ten regular season and Wisconsin has felt the effects of playing in the nation’s most difficult conference.

Eight of Wisconsin’s 10 losses have been against quad one teams. The Badgers have only one loss outside of conference play, a heartbreaker against in-state rival Marquette.

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Last matchup

Only 17 days separate meetings between these two teams. The last time these two met, the Hawkeyes dominated from the jump.

The Hawkeyes went on a 14-3 run to start the game and never gave up the lead en route to a 15-point victory at the Kohl Center.

Senior forward Luka Garza had a field day playing against the Badgers. Garza — who is the favorite to win the Wooden Award at the end of the season — had a 30-point game while shooting 58% from the field.

The Hawkeyes had no problems shooting the ball as a team either. Iowa completed the game shooting 51% from the field and 63.2%  on 3-pointers.

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Earlier this week

The Badgers extended their losing streak against ranked opponents to seven straight games. Last game out, the Badgers fell to No. 23 Purdue on the road.

Momentum was on the side of Wisconsin until Purdue put in 7-foot-4-inch center Zach Edey in relief of Trevion Williams who was in foul trouble. Edey torched the Badgers for 21 points in 18 minutes to help Purdue edge Wisconsin by four points.

The Hawkeyes are winners of six of their last seven games. The only loss in that stretch came at the hands of the Big Ten regular-season champion Michigan Wolverines. Most recently, Iowa beat Nebraska by 38 points.

What is at stake

Wisconsin will lock up the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten tournament with a win over Iowa. A loss would mean the Badgers will finish .500 in conference play and puts the Badgers in danger of potentially falling to the No. 7 seed if Maryland beats Penn State on Sunday.

Iowa still has a lot to play for in this game. A win would earn them a double-bye and the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. A loss could drop the Hawkeyes as many as two spots, missing out on the double-bye.

That scenario is only possible if both Purdue and Ohio State win in their final games.

Tip-off from Carver-Hawkeye stadium is set for 11:30 a.m. Sunday. Catch all the action between the Badgers and the Hawkeyes on Fox.