Iowa and Wisconsin are on very similar steps on the Big Ten ladder. Wisconsin has a chance to go from a middle of the pack team to an elite Big Ten team. Winning tonight would be a huge help in allowing them to make that next step, and join the pack of Michigan, Indiana and Minnesota at the top of the conference.
Wisconsin is technically the top team in the Big Ten, record-wise. They have a spotless 4-0-conference record, after going just 9-4 in non-conference play. Wisconsin has made major statements by crushing Illinois at home and then upsetting Indiana on the road. They came in to Big Ten play under the radar- that has changed. However, to get national respect and to become a Big Ten championship contender, Wisconsin has to keep beating good teams.
They have shown that they have sufficient talent to beat the big boys, despite the loss of Jordan Taylor and injury to Josh Gasser. Traevon Jackson has taken over the point guard position and looked good. In the post, Jared Berggeren is having a superb season, averaging 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks per game. On the wings, Ryan Evans has used his athleticism to make play. Freshman Sam Dekker has shown flashes of why he was so highly touted out of high school. And of course, Mike Bruesewitz has been his same scrappy and dependable self.
It is very surprising that a team that looked so mediocre in non-conference play now looks so good in Big Ten play. It is usually the opposite shift for teams heading in to conference play. But, Wisconsin has indeed made a statement so far. To keep that momentum going, Wisconsin will have to beat a good Iowa team on the road.