Sconnie Sports Talk

Badgers look to bolster tournament résumé at #8 Iowa on Wednesday


The Badgers are headed down to Iowa City to play the #8 Hawkeyes on Wednesday night at 8 PM CT (Big Ten Network).

This will be the first and only regular season matchup between the two teams. The Badgers are coming off of their strong second half performance in a win against Illinois, while the Hawkeyes are coming off of their loss at Penn State from last Wednesday. This will be Wisconsin’s third game since last Thursday, while Iowa appears well rested.

Projected Starters

Projected Wisconsin Starters

G: Bronson Koenig (13.4 PPG, 2.3 APG)
G: Zak Showalter (7.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG)
F: Nigel Hayes (16.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.2 APG)
F: Vitto Brown (9.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG)
F: Ethan Happ (12.0 PPG, 8.1 RPG)

Projected Iowa Starters

G: Mike Gesell (8.5 PPG, 6.2 APG)
G: Peter Jok (16.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG)
G: Anthony Clemmons (9.o PPG, 3.7 APG)
F: Jared Uthoff (18.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG)
C: Adam Woodbury (8.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG)


The Hawkeyes are led by do-it-all junior forward Jared Uthoff, who leads the team in points and blocks, is second in rebounds, all while shooting at a 45.7% clip from the field (41.6% 3-PT). If Uthoff’s name sounds familiar, that’s because he was originally a Badger and transferred during his freshman year.

Peter Jok, another junior, is the second-leading scorer for Iowa with 16.3 points per game and is coming off of a 28-point performance against Penn State. Jok has emerged as one of the top scoring guards in the Big Ten this season.

The rest of their lineup is rounded out by seniors in Mike Gesell, Anthony Clemmons, and Adam Woodbury. You may recognize their names as well, as they’ve been around forever. Gesell averages 6.2 assists per game and is one of the best passers in the conference. Woodbury is solid around the rim and goes to the board plentifully, but he is known more for his eye poking antics than anything else.

Nigel Hayes has been in a slump the last two games, going 5-23 combined. He still scored 17 points against Illinois with solid free throw shooting, but he has not looked nearly as good as he did during Wisconsin’s seven-game winning streak. If he happens to be off for the first ten minutes in Iowa City with his jump shot, he should look to attack and get to the line.

One place the Badgers should look is Bronson Koenig attacking Gesell, as Koenig is the superior athlete. Koenig always finishes well at the rim, and Badger fans often wish he’d attack the rim more often. In the most recent game against Illinois, Koenig was more aggressive, getting to the rim with more frequency. Against Gesell, he could get what he wants inside. Perhaps Iowa will move him on to Zak Showalter, but even so, Showalter is capable of finishing at the rim as well.

Vitto Brown has quietly continued his streak of good play, not in volume but in efficiency, shooting over 50% again. Wisconsin will need him to continue to stretch the defense on Wednesday. Woodbury will matchup on Ethan Happ, which will leave Happ with a major height disadvantage close to the rim. Still, Wisconsin will need Happ to use his footwork and quickness to score on Woodbury in order to win this one.

Iowa plays at a furious pace, scoring 75 or more points in 21 of their 26 games (the Badgers have reached that mark just 9 times in 27 games). The Badgers will try to limit possessions and slow the game down. Wisconsin has been a great rebounding team all year (particularly offensively), but the Badgers will have to have a truly tremendous effort on the boards on Wednesday night to keep Uthoff and 7’1″ Adam Woodbury off the glass.

Bottom Line

Losing won’t hurt, but winning will surely help. The Badgers will need a more complete effort than their last two games to pull the upset. Slowing the game down from Iowa’s fast break style will be the biggest key, and this game should go down to the wire.