IOWA CITY — The Big Ten boasts six ranked basketball teams, and Wisconsin isn’t one of them. Yet the Badgers are alone atop the league standings.
Most people are surprised. Iowa junior Melsahn Basabe isn’t one of them.
“They have a great coach in Bo Ryan,” Basabe said. “This is one of the best programs in the country and in the Big Ten. I think I remember people saying, ‘Oh, this is kind of an off year,’ and they were struggling. They were 8-4 or something. I remember that just a few weeks ago. But teams like that, they know what they are doing.”
Wisconsin (13-4, 4-0 Big Ten) has won seven straight games, none more impressively than its 64-59 win at No. 2 Indiana on Tuesday. It was the Badgers’ 11th straight win over the Hoosiers.
But the Hawkeyes (12-5, 1-3) provided a similar shock to Wisconsin last year. Iowa swept the season series, which prevented the Badgers from either tying or winning the Big Ten title outright. Iowa’s players expect a determined effort from Wisconsin. Iowa junior Devyn Marble is confident the Badgers won’t look past his team.
“They pride themselves on being a tougher team, so we’ve got to come out with a tough mentality and hit them in the mouth first,” Marble said. “Really matching their physicality and their aggressiveness, we’ve got to do that to have any success in the game.”“They’re never to be taken lightly,” Basabe said.