FACTS & STATS: Site: Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,500) -- Iowa City, Iowa. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Wisconsin 10-0, Iowa 9-2. Away Record: Wisconsin 2-2, Iowa 1-2. Neutral Record: Wisconsin 1-1, Iowa 2-1. Conference Record: Wisconsin 4-0, Iowa 1-3. Series Record: Iowa leads, 78-77.
GAME NOTES: Coming off their most impressive win of the season, the Wisconsin Badgers will try to build upon that momentum on Saturday night as they travel to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a Big Ten bout with the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Wisconsin went into hostile territory on Tuesday night to face No. 2 Indiana in Bloomington, and came away with a 64-59 victory to extend its lengthy win streak to a season-high, seven games. The Badgers are 4-0 in the Big Ten and 13-4 overall, and with a bona fide signature win under their belt, a reintroduction to the Top-25 is likely when the new poll is announced next week.
Iowa's season has been largely a success, as it sits at 12-5, which includes an impressive 9-2 mark at home. It has had a difficult time in the tough Big Ten however, going just 1-3 in conference play, but it is fresh off a convincing 70-50 triumph over Northwestern last Sunday.
After 155 all-time meetings, the series remains remarkably close, with Iowa clinging to a 78-77 advantage. The Badgers had won 13 of 15 prior to a season- sweep by the Hawkeyes in 2011-12.
The Badgers were front-runners for much of their contest against Indiana, and even though the Hoosiers cut their deficit to just one late thanks to a 10-1 run, Wisconsin sealed its fate with a 9-1 spurt itself down the stretch. It proved why it is the Big Ten's top-ranked scoring defense (54.9 ppg) in a big way, holding IU (which leads the nation with 85.4 ppg) to a lowly 37 percent field goal shooting. UW made field goals at 45.1 percent efficiency on the night, and the team was paced by Ryan Evans with 13 points and eight rebounds. Traevon Jackson added 11 points, while Mike Bruesewitz and Sam Dekker netted 10 apiece. The Badgers assist their spectacular defense by netting more than 70 points per contest and grabbing nearly 6.0 rpg more than their opponents. Jared Berggren (12.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.0 bpg) and Evans (11.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 1.0 spg) are mainstays in the frontcourt, while guard Ben Brust (10.9 ppg) does a lot of the dirty work in the paint (6.1 rpg), and he also contributes out on the perimeter (3.1 apg, 1.2 spg, 35 3PM).
Iowa cruised to the 20-point decision in its latest game by outshooting Northwestern from the field, 46 percent to 29.4 percent, while also winning the rebounding battle, 43-33. Aaron White paced the squad with 17 points, and Josh Oglesby (14 points) and Melsahn Basabe (11 points) both took advantage of extended playing time off the bench. Typically, it's Roy Devyn Marble who sparks the Hawkeyes' play at the offensive end by scoring 15.0 ppg thanks in large part to the league's fourth-best free-throw percentage (.803). Aaron White is a force in the paint, making more good on than 55 percent of his field goal attempts for 13.3 ppg, while adding a team-best 6.1 rpg. Mike Gesell (8.8 ppg) runs the point and contributes 3.2 apg and 1.4 spg. Iowa ranks fifth in the Big Ten in scoring offense (74.2 ppg), and while its scoring defense of 63.0 ppg may seem impressive, it only ranks 10th in a conference filled with stingy defenses.
Despite Iowa's impressive record, it has yet to prove itself against top-level competition. Wisconsin has already shown it can answer the bell in tough conference road games, and while a letdown is certainly possible, expect the Badgers to extend their winning streak to eight.