Pregame notes: Iowa at Wisconsin

Published: January 5 2014 | 5:14 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:40 am in

For openers: if you combined football and men's basketball, the Iowa-Wisconsin series is tied 121-121-2. Any way you look at it, that's impressive.

Tip-in: Wisconsin twice allowed 70-plus points in Big Ten play last year, and both were to Iowa. The Hawkeyes were one of only two Big Ten teams to put up 70 on the Badgers in 2011-12.

Notable: This is the first time No. 22 Iowa (12-2, 1-0 Big Ten) and No. 4 Wisconsin (14-0, 1-0) teams have met as ranked rivals since 2001 when Wisconsin was ranked 19th and Iowa 14th.

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Wisconsin lost three front-court players from last year's team, but have replaced them more than effectively. Mike Bruesewitz, Jared Berggren and Ryne Evans combined to score 27.5 points and grab 19.5 rebounds a game. But this year Fran Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and Josh Gasser have combined for 36.8 points and 16.5 rebounds. The Badgers also score 75.1 points a game, are off to their best start in 100 years (14-0) and are ranked fourth in the country.

Kaminsky (7-foot)  is the only Big Ten player with a 40-point game and set the school record with a 43-point effort against North Dakota. He was 16-of-19 from the floor and hit all six 3-point attempts. He has Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery's full attention.

"I think Kaminsky was a really good player last year," McCaffery said. "I think he got set back a little bit when he got poked in the eye. It looked to me that he was really on his way and that set him back. He was still really good.

Dekker, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, leads the Badgers in points (14.5) and rebounds (6.4). He has scored in double figures 12 times this year. Gasser, a 6-3 guard, did not play last year after tearing his ACL. He was tapped to play point guard last year but with Traevon Jackson's emergence, he now plays off the ball.

"I think Dekker has taken his game to the next level," McCaffery said. "They get Gasser back, who was one of their best players the previous two years; you plug back in with a guy who was going to be one of your best player, who wasn’t there. What happened was, it opened the door for Tre Jackson, to become what he’s become, which is one of the better players in our league. I think in a lot of ways it helped their team become deeper.

"You look at five scorers, five 3-point shooters, but I think when it’s all said and done, to me Dekker has really become an elite player. He was really good as a freshman, you knew he was going to be good, you weren’t sure how good he was going to be. Now as a sophomore, he’s one of the elite players in the country, forget about our league. I think that’s had a lot to do with it, too."

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Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in both 3-pointers made (116) and 3-point percentage (39.2 percent). Wisconsin senior Ben Brust entered the weekend ranked second in the league in 3-pointers with 39.

"In addition to the fact that they can all shoot 3s, they’re all good passers," McCaffery said. "They’re not a turnover team. So if you have shooters and a couple of guys playing nuts, it doesn’t really matter. But if you look to their assist-to-turnover numbers, they’re just as impressive as their 3-point shooting. They’re sharing the ball, they give the ball up to each other. They put a premium on winning."

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Iowa senior Melsahn Basabe is only nine points from achieving 1,000 points.

Iowa junior forward Aaron White leads the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (66.0) and ranks fourth in free-throw percentage (83.3).

Iowa point guard Mike Gesell (3.1) ranks first and guard Devyn Marble (2.5) fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio.

 

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