As the world mourns the tragic passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, a basketball game seems so unimportant. However, it was the game of basketball that allowed Kobe to make such an impact on this world.
A generation of kids grew up yelling “KOBE!” when throwing something in the garbage. He is the reason that so many of basketball’s biggest stars picked up the ball in the first place. He will forever be synonymous with the No. 24 in the same way that Michael Jordan and Lebron James are associated with No. 23. His competitiveness was tangible and passion was undeniable. The basketball community will continue to move forward as we remember his love for the game and the undying intensity he displayed with every step on the hardwood.
But his impact reached so much farther than just basketball. He taught us how we had to go after what we wanted and that there is no substitute for hard work. He used his platform to show what a great dad is and does. He shared the passion for basketball with his daughter, Gianna, and Kobe was determined to help women’s athletics progress. The “Mamba Mentality” reached outside of the painted lines and into his everyday life.
Rest in peace to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, as well as the Altobelli family who was also in the crash. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families.
As we look forward, Wisconsin will visit the Iowa Hawkeyes on Monday night in a matchup of two teams in the top half of the Big Ten standings.
Game of the Day:
-Wisconsin Badgers at #19 Iowa Hawkeyes
- TV/Time: 8:30 PM ET (BTN)
- Vegas Spread: Iowa -6
Greg Gard and company look to rebound from their ugly 19-point loss on Friday night to Purdue when they travel south to Iowa. The Hawkeyes have not lost in nearly three weeks and are coming off a nice victory over Rutgers.
This will be a matchup of differing styles as Iowa is 18th in the nation in points per game while Wisconsin is 300th in the same metric. However, the inverse is also true as Iowa is 212th nationally in points allowed per game while Wisconsin is 21st. None of this is necessarily groundbreaking news as the Badgers have always like to slow things down while Fran McCaffrey teams have never been mistaken for defensive powerhouses. One of these playing styles will have to give on Monday night.
Iowa’s Luka Garza is the frontrunner for Big Ten Player of the Year as we head into February. He’s averaging a league-leading 23.2 ppg and is second in the conference with 10.3 rpg, trailing only Daniel Oturu. Garza is shooting an impressive 56% from the field, including 38% from three which helps open things up for him in the paint. The supporting cast for the Hawkeyes is led by Joe Weiskamp. The sophomore guard is averaging 15 ppg and is underrated as a rebounder (6.1 rpg). These two stars are perfect complements for each other. Garza does a lot of his work in the post while Weiskamp’s outside shooting prevents opposing defenses from collapsing.
Wisconsin has had an up-and-down season so far but still find themselves fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth. They enter Monday night’s matchup at 12-8 and tied for 6th in the Big Ten. While the overall record may be a little underwhelming, the Badgers currently have the 5th hardest strength of schedule nationally. They have a quality non-conference win over in-state foe Marquette and will plenty of opportunities to boost their resume within the conference in the next month or so. Brad Davison is the embodiment of what Wisconsin basketball is all about. He may only be averaging 8.9 ppg, but his defense and hustle is what makes him such an impactful player.
Whoever is able to dictate the pace is going to come out on top. Iowa has done a tremendous job at Carver Hawkeye Arena this year as they’ve won nine of their ten contests at home. I expect Iowa to come out on top, continuing their win streak and building a case to be ranked in the near future.
- Pick: Iowa