Madison, WI – The 11th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers take aim at their seventh straight win, as they play host to the Iowa Hawkeyes in Big Ten Conference action this afternoon at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Iowa is two games over .500 on the year (8-6), but has already suffered a setback in Big Ten play, falling at home to Purdue on Wednesday in a 79-76 final. The Hawkeyes have yet to win outside of Iowa City this season, going 0-2 in true road games, 0-3 when you factor in a 82-59 neutral-site setback versus Creighton back on November 20.
In addition to winning each of is last six games, Wisconsin is a stellar 12-2 on the season -- the team's only setbacks coming against ranked foes North Carolina and Marquette in back-to-back games from November 30-December 3. The Badgers won their ninth straight Big Ten opener in a 64-40 rout of Nebraska in Lincoln earlier in the week, and following this tilt UW will play back-to-back games against ranked Big Ten foes in Michigan State and Michigan,
Wisconsin is clinging to a one-game lead in the all-time series with Iowa, 77-76, and the Badgers have won the last three meetings, and 13 of the last 15 overall.
At the moment, Iowa boasts seven players averaging 7.1 ppg or better, with Matt Gatens and Roy Devyn Marble leading the way with 13.8 and 11.4 ppg, respectively. As a result, the team puts up 77.9 ppg behind 45.5 percent field goal accuracy, which includes a 34.4 percent showing from three-point range. Defensively, the Hawkeyes are permitting 70.9 ppg, with foes hitting their total shots 45.2 percent of the time, and their treys at a 37.1 percent clip. Iowa is +2.2 in rebounding margin and +4.3 in turnover differential, two stats that have helped them achieve their favorable record thus far. Marble scored 17 points, Melsahn Basabe added 14 and Gatens chipped in 11 for the Hawkeyes in their conference opener against Purdue earlier in the week, but those efforts went for naught as coach Fran McCaffery's club dropped a three-point decision at home. Marble and Gatens combined to hand out 11 assists, while Basabe grabbed eight rebounds in the losing effort. Iowa shot 47.3 percent from the floor, but drained only three of its 11 three-point attempts on the night, while the Boilermakers nailed 50 percent of their total shots and won the game despite being outscored at the free-throw line, 21-7.
Wisconsin comes into this contest sporting the No. 1 defense in the country, as coach Bo Ryan's team is on pace to shatter the school record for scoring yield (52.6 ppg set in 1949-50) as it currently allows a paltry 44.4 ppg. The Badgers were at it again in their league lidlifter against Nebraska, as the Cornhuskers managed just 40 points on a mere 30.6 percent shooting effort, which included a dismal 3-of-13 showing from the beyond arc. From an offensive standpoint, UW is producing 67.9 ppg in hitting 46.0 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes 41.1 percent from downtown, and the team has committed just 119 turnovers in 14 games (8.5 tpg). Jordan Taylor leads a quartet double-digit scorers for the Badgers, as he turns in 12.4 ppg to go with 5.0 apg, while Jared Berggren adds 12.1 ppg. Ryan Evans (10.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Ben Brust (10.6 ppg) have both produced as well. Evans was high man for the Badgers in their recent rout of Nebraska, netting a career-high 22 points on the strength of his 9-of-11 shooting effort. He also pulled down six boards. Taylor finished with 15 points and five assists for the victors.