Iowa and host Wisconsin each will be looking to bounce back from disheartening losses when they meet Wednesday at Madison, Wis. in a Big Ten matchup with significant postseason ramifications.
Iowa (17-10, 9-7 Big Ten) is coming off an 80-60 loss at Northwestern on Sunday when Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery was ejected. The loss dropped the Hawkeyes into a jumble of five teams tied for fourth place. The top four get a double-bye in the conference tournament.
“Learn from it,” McCaffery said. “Don’t beat yourself up over it. Don’t blame yourself, don’t blame your teammates. I’m not blaming anybody. We know what we’re facing on Wednesday, a really good team on the road. Another road atmosphere with a difficult opponent. We have to play better than we played (Sunday).”
Wisconsin (15-11, 7-9), a participant in 22 of the last 23 NCAA Tournaments, saw its tourney hopes take another hit with a 58-57 home loss to Rutgers on Saturday. The Badgers failed to score after getting a basket with 3:36 remaining.
Wisconsin won the first meeting this season 78-75 in overtime at Iowa in mid-December. Iowa leads the Big Ten in scoring at 80.3 points per game, while allowing 73.7, which is worst in the conference.
Kris Murray averages 20.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, along with a team-best 50 3-pointers. Filip Rebraca adds 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds.
Iowa was a season-worst 3 of 24 from 3-point range against Northwestern, while the Wildcats were 10 of 20.
The inability to close out games has been costly for Wisconsin. Two weeks ago, the Badgers squandered a 17-point second-half lead in a 73-63 overtime loss at Nebraska. They bounced back to hold off Michigan 64-59 despite not making a field goal over the final 10:45.
Against Rutgers, the Badgers missed their final five shots as a 57-54 lead slipped away. Freshman Connor Essegian, who has a team-high 17.2 points over the previous five games, was 0 for 10 from the field against Rutgers, including 0 of 7 from 3-point range, and missed two shots in the final 11 seconds.
“Typically, against Rutgers, and most teams in this league, it’s a lower-possession rock fight, so to speak,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “That’s where every possession matters, no matter if it’s in the last 11 seconds or the first 11 minutes.”
The Badgers average 64.7 points per game, while allowing 63.2. Chucky Hepburn leads with 12.5 points per game and Steven Crowl adds 11.7 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds.
–Field Level Media