The Big Ten Conference race is heating up as we enter the final week of the regular season. The top three seeds for the conference tournament have already been decided, but there is still a lot to play for both Iowa and Wisconsin. The Badgers are hoping to secure a double-bye in the tournament, while Iowa is trying to sneak up into that spot with an upset win in this game. This is the first and only meeting between these long time Big Ten rivals this season.
Both Wisconsin and Iowa are locks for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, and both teams have shown the ability to make deep runs in March. Wisconsin enters this game in 4th place in the Big 10 standings with a conference record of 12-6. The Badgers have won three of their last four games, and are always extremely tough to beat at home. Iowa has lost three of their last four games, and have fallen to just 10-8 in conference play. The Hawkeyes sit in sixth place in the Big Ten, but that could change in the final two games. Wisconsin is -8.0 over Iowa in this game.
Happ Hoping For Strong Finish
Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ was seen as a project upon enrolling at Wisconsin, but he has turned into one of the best players in college basketball. The Badgers fans will show him plenty and love and support before the game in what will be his final appearance at the Kohl Center. Happ leads Wisconsin with 17.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game this season, and does everything a winner should do. There is no doubt that Happ will want to end his home career with a huge game in front of the Wisconsin faithful.
The Badgers aren’t going to blow anyone away with their offense, but their defense is one of the best in the nation. Wisconsin is allowing just 61.6 points per game so far this season, and they hardly ever make defensive mistakes. The Badgers score less than 70 points per night, but they enjoy playing a much slower tempo than most of the teams in the Big Ten Conference. If Wisconsin is going to win this game, they are going to have to slow down the explosive Hawkeyes.
Iowa Lives and Dies From Three
The Iowa Hawkeyes have the ability to light up the scoreboard on any given night, but they can also fall flat on their face. Iowa absolutely has to be making their three-point shots if they want any chance of winning a game in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes are shooting close to 37 percent from deep as a team, but they are extremely streaky. Iowa comes into this game averaging just under 80 points per game, but they also give up close to 74 per night. The Hawkeyes will look to speed up Wisconsin on Thursday night, which isn’t easy to do.
Forward Tyler Cook leads the Hawkeyes with 15.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game this season, but he hasn’t been the real star. Shooting guard Tyler Bohannon has been putting on a shooting clinic all season long and has his fair share of game winners on his resume. Bohannon is averaging just over 11 points per game, but the Badgers will no doubt be paying close attention to him on Thursday night.
Wisconsin Wins on Senior Night
Senior night has kind of lost some of its luster in recent seasons, but this one will be special in Madison. Ethan Happ and the other Wisconsin seniors will want to end their home career with a victory, and they should get it against a slumping Iowa team. The Hawkeyes are a great shooting team, but Wisconsin will defend the arc to secure the win. Bet the Wisconsin Badgers -8.0 over the Iowa Hawkeyes.