Takeaways from Wisconsin’s Win Over Iowa

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on January 6th, 2014

With sub-zero temperatures dominating Sunday across the Midwest, the Wisconsin vs. Iowa match-up in Madison had the intensity of a cold-weather bruiser football game. Previous to Sunday night’s game, the average margin of victory over the past five meetings between these two teams was 3.8 PPG. Last season’s double-overtime thriller at Wisconsin is one such example, and this year’s thrilling 75-71 Badgers win was must-see television throughout. It was a tale of two halves for Bo Ryan’s team because the Badgers were dominated for the first half, entering the locker room facing a 35-24 deficit. But as national title contenders tend to do, Wisconsin buckled down defensively in the second half and pulled off the big win to stay unbeaten. Let’s example the positives and negatives of the Badgers’ performance yesterday.

Bo Ryan's Badgers showed that they can beat tough teams despite their weaknesses.

Bo Ryan’s Badgers showed that they can beat tough teams despite their weaknesses.

  1. Wisconsin’s lack of interior presence was exposed by Iowa. Frank Kaminsky (6.0 RPG) and Sam Dekker (6.4 RPG) had no answer for Iowa’s Melsahn Basabe and Aaron White in the first half as they were outrebounded 27-16 on the glass. Rebounding and toughness in the paint is a concern for these Badgers because they don’t have a designated forward whose job is simply to defend and clean up the glass. Jared Berggren was that player over the past two seasons, but Kaminsky can’t fill those shoes because, despite what he adds with his offensive versatility, he gives it back in terms of rebounding. With Mike Gesell and Devyn Marble consistently attacking the basket, the Badgers couldn’t control the weak side, and as a result, Iowa’s front line was able to feast on easy baskets. This will continue to be a concern for Bo Ryan when the Badgers face stronger front lines such as those at Michigan State and Indiana. At this juncture, there is no good solution for the problem except to ask the guards to play tougher perimeter defense to ensure their men don’t beat them off the dribble. Players who can beat Josh Gasser or Ben Brust off the bounce have an open lane to score easy baskets because Kaminsky is not a dominant defensive force inside.
  2. Wisconsin proved that it has the depth to compete against tougher teams. Josh Gasser only played 25 minutes last night because he picked up three fouls fairly quickly and Ryan chose to sit him until the final 10 minutes of the game. Dekker, on the other hand, played 34 minutes but shot 0-of-9 from the field until the final two minutes of the game. Considering that Gasser was ineffective, Dekker couldn’t find his shot, and Kaminsky was dominated on the glass, the Badgers had no real business winning the game. But they proved that they are more than just their starting five – Duje Dukan came off the bench to chip in with six points, and more importantly, seven rebounds. Nigel Hayes sparked a second half run because he was active on the glass (four rebounds in 14 minutes). While Dukan forced Iowa defenders to cover him on the perimeter, Hayes was excellent requiring Basabe and Gabriel Olaseni to defend him in the paint without picking up fouls. He also went 6-of-10 from the free throw line, but the high number of attempts shows that Wisconsin’s offense is more than just effective long-range shooting. During conference play, expecting all five members of the starting lineup to be on their A-game is unrealistic, but Sunday night’s game showed that Ryan has a couple of players on the bench who can step up when needed without skipping a beat. 
Deepak Jayanti (270 Posts)

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