Wisconsin visits Iowa City for a chance to keep themselves in what has become a race for second place in the Big10. Purdue's win over rival Indiana Tuesday puts the Boilermakers a half game ahead of the Badgers, and a win Wednesday would put the two stalwarts in a tie. At this point, the most valuable thing to gain going into the back stretch of the season for Purdue and Wisconsin is position going into the Big10 and NCAA Tournaments.
On paper, the difference doesn't seem that big. However, the 2 seed plays two hours earlier and has more time to recover before their next game, as well as facing a completely different opponent (the winner of the 7/10 game as opposed to the 6/11 game). On top of that, both Purdue and Wisconsin are looking for more quality wins, especially on the road, to boost their NCAA profile for seeding come Selection Sunday. If Wisconsin were to lose a game, their road record (and overall profile) would be severely impacted.
On the other side of the ring is Iowa, who is floundering at the bottom of the Big10 table. With only three conference wins - two of which coming against last-place Indiana - Iowa's post-season hopes are all but dashed. With a win tonight, Fran McCaffery can start to get some pride back in the program. McCaffery has led the Hawkeyes to a 10-13 start, a marked improvement thus far over Todd Lickliter's 2009-2010 record of 10-22. A win against a top-tier team would be a great way to get some momentum behind the team going into next year.
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Wisconsin is led by Junior guard Jordan Taylor, one of Doug Gottlieb's top five players in the nation only a couple short weeks ago. His last game out against Michigan State, he put up 30 points and really dismantled the Spartans. Iowa also has to deal with grizzled veteran Jon Leuer, who added 20 points against MSU. These two are really the key to the game for Wisconsin, and with help from Keaton Nankivil should be able to easily outmatch the Hawkeyes.
Iowa seeks to continue to build some true experience against quality opponents, riding their leading scorer and assist man Matt Gatens. Additionally, freshman forward Melsahn Basabe shows a lot of promise, averaging nearly 7 rebounds a game to go along with 10.7 points and a block and a half. This is a player to watch in the coming years as he develops into a true power down low in the Big10.