Wisconsin’s 5-step program
This Sunday, the Wisconsin men’s basketball team (20-1, 6-0) travels to Iowa City, Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes (11-9, 3-3). If the Badgers are to earn a Big Ten road win, which is always hard to come by, there are five things that they must do:1. Limit Haluska’s threesSenior guard Adam Haluska is the Big Ten leader in scoring (20.3 ppg) and three-pointers made (3.05 per game). In Iowa’s 11 wins this year, Haluska has better than 40 percent from behind the arc while shooting less than 35 percent in his team’s 9 losses. Wisconsin junior guard Michael Flowers will likely draw the difficult defensive assignment, and though Haluska has shown the ability to drive to the basket, limiting his three-point shooting will be vital for the Badgers to get the win.2. Get Tucker involved early and oftenWednesday, Wisconsin allowed Michigan to start the game on a 9-0 run. The Badgers righted the ship quickly by putting together a 9-0 run of their own with the help of the Grateful Red and the rest of the home crowd. Such a swing in momentum will be much more difficult for coach Bo Ryan’s team at Carver-Hawkeye Arena where Iowa is 10-1 on the season. Wisconsin’s unquestioned leader is senior forward Alando Tucker, and he has carried the offensive load on more than one occasion already this year. If Tucker gets some early touches, particularly in scoring position on the wing, baseline, or cutting through the lane, the Badgers should be able to avoid another slow start.3. Earn second-chance pointsThe Badgers lead the conference in rebounding (37 rpg.) while Iowa is 10th in rebounding defense (35 rpg allowed). Wisconsin has out-rebounded its opponents by an average of 7.2 per game while Iowa has been out-rebounded by 1.6 per game. If the Wisconsin front court is aggressive on the offensive glass, it should translate into easy second-chance points.4. Find the X-factorWisconsin, as one of the deepest teams in the country, has a number of talented reserves who can make an impact at any time. Sophomore Marcus Landry stepped up against Ohio State to the tune of 10 points, four rebounds, and four blocks. Junior center Greg Stiemsma went into last Saturday’s game at Illinois averaging only 1.6 points per game but gave the Badgers a huge boost, scoring 12 points on 5-6 shooting. On the other side of the ball, while Haluska will be Wisconsin’s main focus, they must not forget about the Hawkeyes’ role players.Four of Iowa’s nine losses came in the first six games of the season while their senior point guard Mike Henderson was out with a broken finger. Also of note, talented freshman Tyler Smith is Iowa’s second-leading scorer (15.4 ppg), and sophomore guard Tony Freeman is a proficient playmaker, averaging nearly four assists per game.5. Finish the gameEarlier this month, Wisconsin led Ohio State by 16 with 9:30 remaining before escaping with a three-point victory. Similarly, the Badgers led Purdue by 12 with less than four minutes to play before going on to win by only five. Allowing less-talented teams to hang around at the end of games could prove to be costly, particularly on the road. If the Badgers get an early lead, they can not afford to allow Iowa back into the game for a chance to pull off a late-game upset. On the other hand, Wisconsin has also found itself trailing late in games a few times this season, most recently last weekend at Illinois. Against the Illini, the Badgers finished the final four minutes on a 12-2 run to transform a three-point deficit into a seven-point victory. Should the Badgers find themselves in a similar situation Sunday, they must keep their composure.