Following Sunday’s back-and-forth loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Marisa Moseley’s Wisconsin squad (5-15, 2-8 Big Ten) faces off against the No. 21 Iowa Hawkeyes (14-5, 8-2 Big Ten) in Madison on Feb. 3.
The two last met in February last season, when the Hawkeyes defeated the Badgers in dominating fashion 84-70. With a 1-22 all-time mark against Iowa, UW aims to frustrate one of this generation’s most remarkable talents on Thursday evening — Caitlin Clark.
Anchored by Lisa Bluder, a three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year and one of six active Division I head coaches with at least 795 victories, the 2020-21 group went 20-10, enough to advance to the Sweet 16 for a match with all-mighty Connecticut in the NCAA tournament.
Through 19 games this season, Iowa boasts 84.2 points a game and shoots 49.6% from the field each time out, the highest field-goal percentage per game of any qualified program in the entire country. With a remarkable 84.6% clip from the charity stripe, the Hawkeyes also rank first out of 348 groups in free-throw efficiency per outing. In other words, Iowa can shoot the seams off the basketball from virtually all distances on the hardwood.
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Wisconsin lacks the offensive firepower of Iowa, averaging 57.7 points per game, shooting 39.4% from the field and 29.6% from 3-point range. They have gained their edge on the defensive side, with 7.3 steals a game and 11 points off turnovers per game. Though Moseley’s squad struggles to find consistency on the offensive end, UW only turns it over 15 times per bout and boasts an 0.8 assist-to-turnover ratio.
UW junior Sydney Hilliard still remains the shooting percentage leader among guards in the country with an impressive 54.8% mark from the floor. The Monroe-native averages 12.8 points, 4.7 boards and 1.9 swipes in 33.8 minutes of action each appearance. Still without a single attempt from downtown this season, Hilliard accounts for 97 two-point field goals — 32 more than any other of her teammates.
Julie Pospíšilová has been a strong contributor, averaging 14.3 points and filling the stat sheet with 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and grabs 1.6 steals per contest. Point guard Katie Nelson is the team’s main distributor, leading the team with 63 assists. Brooke Schramek has also been an important piece for Mosley, scoring 7.2 points and 3.7 rebounds a night.
Hawkeyes names to monitor
For those unfamiliar with collegiate hoops, sophomore Caitlin Clark poses a problem for any team and defense. The six-foot sophomore from West Des Moines, Iowa leads the nation in both scoring with 26.4 points per game and distributing with eight assists per game. The dynamic guard also snatches 8.3 rebounds and shoots 89.6% from the line. The leading candidate for National Player of the Year dropped 43 points — yes, you read that correctly — in a loss to Ohio State on Monday, so Wisconsin will need to double-team Iowa’s superstar on each possession Thursday night.
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Monika Czinano, a member of the 2020-21 First Team All-Big Ten, commands the paint for Iowa. The senior chalks up 20.8 points off an eye-popping 65.7% from the floor — fourth-best in the NCAA — and secures 6.6 rebounds in 28.6 minutes per outing. Anticipate a strong performance from this tandem from outside and in the post.
The Badgers will look to bounce back from two straight losses with this tough date against Iowa on Thursday night. While shutting down Caitlin Clark doesn’t seem feasible, UW will need to contain the National Player of the Year frontrunner and be efficient offensively to earn the win.