The Badgers look to build upon a strong finish that propelled them to a 67-60 victory over 14 seeded Colgate in the first round of March Madness.
Following the victory over Colgate, Wisconsin looks ahead to a matchup with No. 11 seed Iowa State, who took down the six seeded LSU Tigers on Friday night — one of the best defensive teams in the country.
Here’s a closer look at how the Badgers are going to matchup against the Iowa State Cyclones in the round of 32.
Iowa State was led by the shooting performance of a lifetime from freshman guard Tyrese Hunter, who posted 23 points on 7/11 from beyond the arc, including the game sealing shot with under 30 seconds left to put Iowa State up 5. There were some concerns surrounding the Cyclones entering this matchup, as they lost 12 of their last 20 games after starting the season 12-0 and earning a spot in the AP top 10.
After a dreadful 2-22 season in 2020-21, expectations were slim to none for this young squad, who were expected to enter a rebuilding phase. But first-year coach T.J. Otzelberger believed otherwise and turned the program into one of the most physical and defensively dominant teams in the country. During the regular season, Iowa State was top 15 in defensive efficiency, averaging over eight steals and holding opponents to just 62 points per game.
With key wins over Iowa, Creighton, Texas and Texas Tech, the Cyclones have shown that they can run with the big dogs — as long as they limit mistakes on the offensive end.
During the regular season, Iowa State was led in scoring by senior guard Izaiah Brockington, averaging over 17 points per game on 46% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc. He’ll look to keep up with Johnny Davis in what should be a very physical matchup between two guards who love to rebound and score through contact.
As a whole, the Cyclones’ offense has been inconsistent throughout the year. They’ve been known to go cold for long stretches in games and let opponents back into the game after building a lead. This inconsistency was on display Friday as they went up by 12 points early in the match only to go scoreless for the last six minutes and thirty seconds of the first half, which allowed LSU to cut their lead to five.
This is the same vulnerability the Badgers capitalized on in their first-round victory over Colgate, holding them to a scoring drought of over seven minutes. After being down four, the Badgers finished the game on a 19-8 run, with 14 of those points coming from Johnny Davis, despite appearing to re-aggravate his right ankle. The Big Ten Player of the Year managed to put any injury concerns to rest, totaling 25 points with 14 in the last 6 minutes of the game.
If the Badgers can limit scoring from Tyrese Hunter and Izaiah Brockington and don’t face a scoring drought of their own, they should take care of the Iowa State team.
Another area where the Badgers look to capitalize is in the paint. The Cyclones lack of a go-to big man could prove to be problematic in this matchup.
Against Colgate, Wisconsin ran their offense mostly through the post in Tyler Wahl. He would back down his defender and wait for a double-team, just to swing the ball around the perimeter for an open shot. When the double didn’t come, Wahl would back his man down inside and take an easy drop step layup — his signature shot. He ended up with 14 points after a very slow start and proved that the Wisconsin offense can be incredibly effective operating through him.
It’s likely that Coach Gard will continue running his offense through the paint, as Iowa State lacks a marquee presence down low. This weak spot for the Cyclones could be exactly where they get beat.
In this second-round matchup, expect to see two of the most physical teams in the tournament go head-to-head in what should be a low-scoring game. Johnny Davis and Izaiah Brockington will also likely go all-out in the most important game of their college careers so far.
If the Badgers find a way to break down the strong Iowa State defense, they’ll have a great shot at advancing to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2017.
The Badgers are set to tip off against the Cyclones in the Fiserv Forum at 5:10 p.m. CT on TNT.