Wisconsin will be looking to avenge last season’s 85-67 loss to the Hawkeyes in Iowa City to open up Big Ten play in 2018-19.
Iowa returns four scorers who averaged double figures a year ago, including forward Tyler Cook (15.3 ppg) and guard Jordan Bohannon (13.5), from a team that was 14-19 overall and just 4-14 in the Big Ten last season. An atrocious defense was the Hawkeyes’ undoing, as they ranked an abysmal 317th in the nation in scoring defense in 2017-18.
I expect the Badgers to put forward a much better effort and take full advantage of Iowa’s defensive shortcomings in this season’s rematch at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Now that everyone is healthy, Wisconsin is by far the more talented team on paper at this point. That being said, Iowa has the scorers to keep this game tight throughout in addition to the home-court advantage.
In the end, though, the Badgers should wear down the Hawkeyes in the second half and pull out a victory by ten points or so.
As was the case in many games last season, Wisconsin had a horrendous showing against Rutgers in Piscataway behind an absolutely abysmal display of three-point shooting, ultimately going down 64-60 to the perennial laughing stock of the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights ultimately finished 15-19 on the year and once again finished last in the conference standings, as they have in every season since coming over from the Big East.
Gone from that squad are its two leading scorers in guard Corey Sanders (15.2 ppg), who torched Wisconsin with 23 points in last year’s game, and forward Dashawn Freeman (11.1 ppg). Sophomore guard Geo Baker (10.8 ppg) was Rutgers’ third-leading scorer as a freshman and will likely be the Scarlet Knights’ go-to player this season.
Hopefully, they savored their taste of victory, because I think it is going to be a very long time before the Scarlet Knights take down Wisconsin again. Look for the Badgers to restore the natural order of the Big Ten hierarchy and clobber Rutgers at home by at least 20 to kick off the month of December.