Home Sweet Home, went bye bye bye as the Badgers couldn't find the bottom of the net from behind the arc, dooming the Badgers in a 72-65 loss to unranked Iowa. Bo Ryan came in undefeated against the Hawkeyes at home, but left the court at the Kohl Center a loser to the Hawkeyes for the 1st time in his Badgers coaching career.
Wisconsin shot a whopping 10.7% from behind the arc on the day, going just 3-28 from deep for the game. Combine that with allowing the most points by a Badgers opponent on the year and you had a recipe for disaster.
Things got off to a slow start for both teams as they seemingly had to find a way to wake up for the noon start to this game. Iowa scored the 1st basket of the game and lead for nearly the entire 1st half, until Wisconsin used a 7-0 run to cut into the lead and eventually take their 1st lead, 25-24, with just 5:17 remaining in the half.
Iowa fought back and the score was 31 all as the buzzer sounded to end the 1st half. In what would be a common theme, Wisconsin was terrible shooting the ball in the half only hitting on 33.3% of their field goal attempts while allowing Iowa to shoot 42%.
Amazingly, even though Wisconsin was just just 2-14 from behind the arc it was those 2 three's that made it a tie game as the Badgers made 3 fewer field goals in the half than Iowa, who went 0-3 from behind the arc on the half themselves.
At the half it was Jordan Taylor leading the way for the Badgers, scoring 8 points. Josh Gasser would lead Wisconsin on the defensive end by grabbing 5 of his team high 8 rebounds in the 1st half alone.
Coming out of the half Wisconsin looked like it finally woke up, scoring the first 6 points to take a 37-31 lead with 16:47 left in the game. However that seemed about the end to the hot streak for the Badgers as they proceeded to go 1-14 from 3 point land in the 2nd half.
You'd think holding Iowa's leading scorer, Matt Gatens to only 6 points would be enough to win a game, but Iowa got amazing help from Aaron White and Bryce Cartwright off the bench, outscoring Wisconsin 37-16 in bench points for the game as a team. 35 of the 37 points came from that duo with White leading all scorers at 18 points, followed by Cartwright's 17. With his 18 points White pretty much cemented his 2nd straight week as Big Ten Freshman of the Week.
Joining the bench duo in double figures was starting forward Melshan Basabe with 14 points. He also grabbed 9 rebounds.
Iowa extended their lead to double digits a few times in the later parts of the 2nd half, but Wisconsin would fight back. Sophomore guard Josh Gasser got fouled by Basabe going to the basket and drew a technical on Basabe for elbowing him after the play was over. He converted on all 4 of his free throw attempts and then managed to score on the ensuing Badgers inbounds play, making it a virtual 6 point play and thus cutting what was a 12 point Hawkeye lead in half with just 3:10 left.
Wisconsin kept within striking distance, even getting within 3 points on the only 3 of the half by point guard Jordan Taylor, who lead all Badgers in scoring with 17 points. But a combination of Wisconsin's inability to hit another three pointer and Iowa's inability to miss in the 2nd half let the Hawkeyes pull away in the final 40 seconds or so.
Doing a quick look at the losses Wisconsin has suffered in conference play at home under Bo Ryan before this one reveals that only 1 of the 6 previous losses was to an unranked team (59-1 vs. unranked opponents coming into the game). That one loss being a 56-53 setback to Illinois, a team that was 16-8 and 8-3 in conference play coming into that match up, not exactly a slouch of a team. They ended up an NIT team that season and were 21-15 in the regular season overall, just narrowly missing on the NCAA tournament. I doubt that you'll see the same from this Iowa team.
This is easily the worst loss in conference play during the Bo Ryan era, but the sky isn't exactly falling because I would put some good money (for entertainment purposes only of course) on the fact that the Badgers will never shoot that bad from 3 point range again under Ryan. The other reason not to be panicking is the defensive problems Wisconsin had are all correctable and one bad game, just like one really good game, doesn't a season make.
What this kind of loss does tell me though is the Big Ten is more than deserving of their #1 ranking in both the conference RPI and Sagrin ratings. I've been a fan of college basketball pretty much since coming out of the womb and I don't remember a time when the Big Ten has been this deep. Iowa is arguably the 2nd worst team in the conference and if the 2nd worst team is pulling an upset on the road against a team that flat out doesn't lose at home, what kind of a season are we in for in the Big Ten? I'm guessing it's going to be one of the most entertaining we've seen in a VERY long time.
Wisconsin next faces Michigan State, a day after the Rose Bowl, at 6pm CT on ESPN2.