With four games left in the regular season, this is a very important two weeks for the Wisconsin Badgers. They let a golden opportunity get away after a 58-57 loss at home to Rutgers Saturday. Tomorrow, Wisconsin welcomes Iowa to the Kohl Center. The Hawkeyes are coming off a 80-60 loss to Northwestern. The Badgers did win the first meeting in Iowa City 78-75 in overtime December 11. Here is a preview of tomorrow night’s game at 8 PM on BTN.
Dealing With Kris Murray This Time
Kris Murray is Iowa’s best player. He’ll most likely be a first round draft pick this summer and he’s a nightmare to match up with. Murray did miss the first meeting as he was sidelined with an injury. The Badgers were fortunate as Iowa would have probably won the first meeting if he played. He currently leads the Hawkeyes averaging almost 21 points a game and is shooting 50% from the field.
I would imagine Tyler Wahl will draw the primary defender assignment on Murray. Despite Wahl’s struggles on the offensive side of the ball, he continues to be an excellent defender. I would also like Max Klesmit on Murray, but Murray is 6’8 with a long wingspan. As a result, I like Wahl on Murray more.
Limited Opportunities Remain
Tomorrow night is a game Wisconsin can’t afford to lose. With only potentially five games remaining if you include the Big Ten Tournament, Wisconsin needs to get their offense going and quick. This would be a solid win for their resume and a back-breaker if they lose.
Wisconsin is still looked at as a “Last Four In” according to Joe Lunadi of ESPN.. This is because the other bubble teams behind Wisconsin haven’t been winning either. The Badgers have caught breaks over the last few weeks. Now is the time they have to take advantage as this could be their last chance.
I have no idea what to expect tomorrow. On one hand, despite averaging 80 points a game, Iowa does give up 74 points a game. They want to run and make this game a track meet and will up baskets to do it. The Wisconsin offense is due for an offensive outbreak as they haven’t had one since Penn State a few weeks ago.
On the other side, Wisconsin has done nothing to show they can break out of their offensive funk. The good news? Connor Essegian isn’t going 0-10 from the field for a second straight game.
Iowa is also playing their best basketball of the season even though they lost by 20 on Sunday. In their last three wins, they have scored 81, 68, and 92. They can score and they have the fire power to do it. Tony Perkins in on a roll, Kris Murray can score in a heartbeat, Payton Sandfort is a good outside shooter, and Filip Rebraca has had an excellent season in the post. Also included is Connor and Patrick McCaffrey who combined for 41 points in the first battle.
The Badgers have bounced back after losses lately, but I just don’t see this team hanging with Iowa. If the Hawkeyes were struggling, I would lean towards Wisconsin, but they have been hitting on all cylinders on offense. I don’t see the Badgers winning this one tomorrow night. I hope I’m wrong.
Iowa 75 Wisconsin 68
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