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3/7 Big Ten Recap: Wisconsin Wrecks Iowa

Wisconsin stays ahead of Maryland for the last double bye.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Game of the Night

#21 Wisconsin Badgers 65, Iowa Hawkeyes 45

It wasn’t exactly a thrilling game, but with neither game being close tonight’s game between Wisconsin and Iowa definitely had the most importance in the Big Ten. For Wisconsin it was a quality win over Iowa and, more notably, keeps the Badgers a game ahead of Maryland for the last double bye. Wisconsin has been plagued by free throw issues and has been hit or miss the season, but if the Badgers don’t play until Friday in the Big Ten Tournament they’ll inevitably be a threat next weekend.

The loss continues a rough stretch for the Hawkeyes as they’ve now dropped three straight and four of their last five. While they have been playing without head coach Fran McCaffery, it doesn’t justify getting steamrolled by Rutgers at home and then by Wisconsin tonight. Not to mention the team lost by 20 against Ohio State with McCaffery coaching. With the Hawkeyes not holding the tiebreaker versus Minnesota, Iowa could slide to a seven seed during the conference tourney. There is a winnable game to close against Nebraska and Iowa will need said game to get things up and running once again.

As for tonight’s outing, Wisconsin didn’t play particularly well as they committed 17 turnovers, shot 4 of 20 from three and only 40.7% from the field. That being said, they did hold a 27-6 free throw advantage, out rebounded Iowa 49-29 and forced 15 turnovers. Ethan Happ had another big night with 21 points and 14 rebounds while Khalil Iverson had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Iowa struggled from the field, shooting 30.5% and 22.7% from three. Mix that with a massive rebound deficit, 15 turnovers and only six free throws and it isn’t a surprise they lost by 20. No player reached double figures, either, with Ryan Kriener leading the team in scoring with 8 points from the bench.

The Rest

Indiana Hoosiers 92, Illinois Fighting Illini 74

Tonight’s other game entertained the idea of being an exciting affair as Indiana took a 52-42 lead into the break over Illinois. The second half saw Indiana maintain a double digit lead, though, and the game was relatively uneventful outside of two solid offensive performances.

The Hoosiers were led by Juwan Morgan, who had 20 points, and shot 55.4% from the field on their way to 92 points. Illinois shot 50% from the field and 47.6% from three, but only 54.5% from the line and couldn’t find a way to slow down the Hoosiers offensively.

Tonight’s game creates a logjam between Indiana, Rutgers and Illinois as the three teams fight for two of the last byes in the Big Ten Tournament. More importantly, it keeps Indiana’s tournament hopes alive for at least a few more days. The Hoosiers play Rutgers this weekend so they’ll have to likely pick up some wins next week if they want in to the NCAA Tournament. As for the Illini, they’ll try to close with a win at Penn State on Sunday.