Ranked rivals square off in Big Ten fracas

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Madison, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - Having recently earned a regular-season sweep of the Ohio State Buckeyes, the 25th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes will try to keep the good times going when they pay a visit to the sixth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers for a Big Ten Conference clash on Tuesday night.

Iowa took down visiting Ohio State on Saturday, 76-67, for the second time in a little less than three weeks, the first coming in the Big Ten opener for both teams in Columbus on Dec. 30, 71-65. As a result, the Hawkeyes are 13-5 overall, and they've won four of their first five conference bouts. The lone blemish on their league ledger came at home to Michigan State, 75-61, on Jan. 8. Iowa is 3-0 in true road games this season, having already beaten a pair of ranked foes on their home floor (North Carolina, Ohio State).

Wisconsin has been ranked among the top teams in the nation all season long, and the team enters this fray sporting a 16-2 record, which includes a 4-1 mark in Big Ten play. The Badgers, who have matched their second-best 18-game start in the modern era, dropped a surprising 67-62 decision at conference newcomer Rutgers on Jan. 11 to stop an eight-game win streak. The squad responded by defeating Nebraska at home last Thursday, 70-55, to improve to 9-1 at the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin is clinging to an 80-79 lead in the all-time series with Iowa, and the Badgers won both meetings last season. Things have been close of late, with each of the last five matchups being decided by five points or less.

Iowa played well at both ends of the court in its recent win over Ohio State, as the team drained 51.1 percent of its field goal attempts while allowing the Buckeyes to do so at just 38.3 percent. Aaron White led the Hawkeyes with 22 points, while Adam Woodbury finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Mike Gesell pitched in with 11 points. Those efforts were certainly needed, as the Buckeyes got a monster effort from D'Angelo Russell as he tallied 27 points and 14 boards. Iowa used a 37-31 advantage on the glass, and a 25-14 edge in points at the foul line to come out on top.

For the season, White (16.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg) paces the team in both scoring and rebounding, and he also serves as the Hawkeyes' top thief with 30 steals. Jarrod Uthoff (11.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.1 apg, 28 blocks) is the only other double-digit scorer for an Iowa team that isn't an offensive juggernaut (70.8 ppg, .420 FG percentage), but does a solid job of frustrating its opponents into only 61.4 ppg and a typical shooting output of only .389 overall. The Hawkeyes usually win both the rebounding (+3.7) and turnover (+1.7) battles.

Frank Kaminsky appeared to be no worse for the wear in his return from a concussion, as he scored 22 points, including the draining of four 3-pointers, as Wisconsin pushed its way past Nebraska last week. It was the 100th win (against only 14 losses) for the Badgers at home against a Big Ten opponent under head coach Bo Ryan. In all, UW put five players in double figures as it played its first game without starting guard Traevon Jackson (fractured foot). The Badgers nailed 11 treys, and used a 17-8 edge in points at the charity stripe to assist in the victory. The two teams combined for only 11 turnovers.

Even with Jackson out of the lineup, the Badgers still have three double-digit scorers on which to rely, led by All-America candidate Kaminsky (17.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 32 blocks). Sam Dekker (12.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and Nigel Hayes (12.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg) have been consistent contributors as well, and guys like Josh Gasser (7.2 ppg) and Bronson Koenig (5.2 ppg) will be asked to elevate their respective games moving forward. Overall, Wisconsin nets 73.3 ppg while allowing just 54.9 ppg. The Badgers convert 74 percent of their free throws, and they are +6.4 in rebounding margin, and +3.2 in turnover differential. They protect the ball extremely well, coughing it up only 8.2 times per outing.