Tonight the Iowa basketball team ventures into the unfriendly confines of Madison, Wisconsin to take on the 4th ranked Badgers in the second game of their 2013-14 Big Ten schedule.
The no. 22 ranked Hawkeyes (12-2) are looking to grab a statement victory against an undefeated Wisconsin squad. Doing so certainly won’t come easy though, as the Kohl Center has widely become known as one of the tougher places to play in the country.
Facing a top 5 team on the road in a hostile environment is a tough task for any team, but I believe the Hawkeyes are primed to spring the upset and grab a few national headlines in the process.
1. Been there, done that.
As much trouble as Wisconsin has given Big Ten foes in recent years, Iowa has had a good deal of success against the Fighting Bo Ryan’s. The Hawkeyes have won three of their last four contests against the Badgers, with the only blemish coming in a 70-74 double overtime loss in Madison last season.
Despite Wisconsin’s overwhelming home winning percentage under head coach Bo Ryan the Hawkeyes have shown they are not intimidated playing their neighbor to the northeast. Iowa should have all the confidence in the world that it can go into the Kohl Center and come out with a win.
2. Too much Aaron White.
The 6-9 junior is having one of the most efficient shooting seasons of any player in the entire country to this point. From his forward position, White entered Big Ten play first in the conference in both field goal and free throw percentage.
White has shown a tremendous ability to put his stamp on a game without requiring a large amount of shots or set plays. He might run the floor better than any other player his size in America, and gives opponents fits with his speed and athleticism in transition.
The unique forward has proven himself to be one of the upper echelon players in the Big Ten, and his skills have definitely translated against Wisconsin.
In his four previous games against the Badgers White has averaged 15 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Now playing better than ever, it’s not far-fetched to expect him to play maybe his best game yet tonight. An aggressive and efficient Aaron White could spell trouble for even a top 5 Wisconsin team.
3. The one that got away.
The story of Jarrod Uthoff’s journey to Iowa has been well publicized. That being said, the Wisconsin transfer has had an entire non-conference schedule to acclimate himself with big time Division 1 basketball, and his impact tonight will be felt on the court rather than in the headlines off of it.
Iowa was a deep team before the redshirt-sophomore ever took the floor for the Hawkeyes. However, with him they have become that much more dangerous. The versatile 6-9 forward currently leads his new team in rebounds, is third in scoring, and second in blocks.
Uthoff has added another dimension to the Hawkeye attack that opponents must account for. With his shot-making and altering abilities the Iowa native is now one of the most important players that head coach Fran McCaffery has at his disposal.
Though he would never admit it publicly, there has to be some extra motivation in going back to face his old team for the first time. Look for an aggressive and effective Jarrod Uthoff as the Hawkeyes steal a road win against a top 5 opponent.