NCAAB: Iowa vs. Wisconsin odds, preview, and pick
As we move through the final month of conference play in the Big Ten, each game for teams at the top of the standings will be critical in their pursuit of a title. Six teams sit within three games of first place, and two of those teams face off Thursday night as the Iowa Hawkeyes head to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers.
Iowa is ranked 11th in the country and is 15-6 overall and 9-5 in conference play. Wisconsin is ranked 21st in the nation and is 15-7 overall, and 9-6 in conference play.
Are the Hawkeyes back on track?
The Hawkeyes went through a rough stretch in late January and the beginning of February. They had two games postponed, and lost four of six.
After back-to-back defeats, however, the Hawkeyes appear to have gotten back on track with two straight victories against Rutgers and Michigan State. While neither of those opponents rank among the conference elite, Rutgers has drifted in and out of the AP Top 25 all season and Michigan State is always a well-respected matchup even in a down year.
A win against Wisconsin will go a long way in giving this team confidence that they have put their midseason slump behind them.
Iowa has been lights-out from deep
Guard Joe Wieskamp led Iowa with 21 points in a balanced and dominant 88-58 victory against the Spartans, and the team shot 52% overall from deep. After shooting 47% from deep against Rutgers, Iowa’s shooters look to be trending back in the right direction to support big man, Luka Garza.
In all four of their most recent defeats, the best they managed was 43% from three-point range. The Hawkeyes have the most prolific scorer in the country this year in Garza, but they’re still very dependent on good outside shooting to succeed.
Wisconsin can't find any consistency
Wisconsin, meanwhile, has been flip-flopping between wins and losses recently. They lost their most recent outing in a tough matchup at Michigan, but won the game prior at Nebraska. They have alternated wins and losses all the way back to a two-game winning streak in mid-January against Rutgers and Northwestern.
Guard D’Mitrik Trice continues to lead the team with 13.6 points per game while logging the most minutes on the floor, but he is one of only two players on the team averaging more than 10 points. The Badgers rely on depth, defense, and heady play to try and grind out slow-paced victories against their Big Ten brethren, and will undoubtedly attempt the same strategy against the fast-paced Hawkeyes on Thursday.
Unfortunately for Wisconsin, Iowa is nearly unstoppable offensively when playing at its best, and over the last two games the Hawkeyes appear to have discovered a new gear. Without a typical Kohl Center crowd to intimidate the road team, I like the better offense to prevail in this matchup.
Look for the Hawkeyes to win comfortably as they continue to chase down Michigan for the Big Ten title.
Score prediction: Iowa 77, Wisconsin 70