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Buy or Sell: Iowa-Wisconsin men's basketball preview

BY RYAN PROBASCO AND BEN ROSS | FEBRUARY 21, 2014 5:00 AM

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Buy or Sell: The outcome of this game is dependent on Ben Brust’s status.

Probasco: Buy. Former Iowa commitment and Wisconsin guard Ben Brust left the Badgers’ Wednesday practice with what’s being reported as a lower back injury, putting his status for Saturday in question.

Last time these two squads met, Brust torched Iowa for a team-high 19 points (5-of-9 field goals, 3-of-6 3-point field goals) in Wisconsin’s win. Brust’s past success against Iowa — in addition to Wisconsin’s relative lack of depth — is why his status is so crucial.

Wisconsin is very reliant on its starting five and sometimes uses just eight players in the rotation. So the loss of Brust would obviously leave the Badgers very thin, giving the Hawkeyes a huge advantage.

Ross: Sell. Ben Brust is good, but he’s not anything Iowa hasn’t seen before. He did have 19 against Iowa, but he has since averaged fewer than 12 points in Big Ten contests. I think Brust will play on Saturday; and to be honest, I’d rather have it that way.

Even though the season is almost over, there still are a lot of questions surrounding this team. It would be good to see how Iowa fares against a Wisconsin squad at full strength. Iowa should have had a win at Wisconsin with Brust, and Saturday should be no different.

Wisconsin is the hottest team in the Big Ten.

Probasco: Buy. To be clear, Wisconsin is not the best or most talented team in the conference. In fact, I like four teams (Michigan State, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio State) to go further than the Badgers in the NCAA Tournament.

But right now, there’s no denying Bo Ryan and Company are playing the best basketball of anyone in the Big Ten. On Saturday, Wisconsin will aim for its fifth-straight victory after wins against Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Michigan.

Ross: Sell. This statement is a fallacy. This is the Big Ten we’re talking about here; there is no such thing as a hot team. Wisconsin lost to Indiana and Northwestern, the latter at home. Nebraska just beat Michigan State, and Illinois and Minnesota are both just bad. I don’t buy into Wisconsin’s four-game winning streak. Winning streaks don’t matter on game days.

If Iowa is to receive a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament, beating Wisconsin is a must.

Probasco: Sell, but barely. The top-four seeds receive a first-round bye in Indianapolis. If Wisconsin were to beat Iowa, the teams would have the same number of losses (five) in conference play.

But considering Ohio State holds the fifth spot with six losses, odds are that both Wisconsin and Iowa will receive a bye regardless.

The Buckeyes still have tough games remaining against Minnesota and Michigan State, meaning Iowa would have to play itself out of a bye. And with the way it’s been playing, that doesn’t seem likely. 

Ross: Buy. If Iowa can’t beat Wisconsin at home, then it probably won’t beat Michigan State in East Lansing and could very well fall to any other team left on its slate. Wisconsin is a big statement game, and a win over the Badgers could help snowball confidence in Iowa to win its remaining Big Ten games.

Bringing in a conference championship to the Big Ten Tournament would be a nice luxury to have alongside a first-round bye. I’m not saying that Iowa needs to beat Wisconsin to win a Big Ten regular-season title, but Iowa needs to beat Wisconsin to win a Big Ten regular-season title.


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