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Odds & Pick for Iowa vs. Wisconsin College Basketball: Hawkeyes’ Offense Should Give Them Edge

Odds & Pick for Iowa vs. Wisconsin College Basketball: Hawkeyes’ Offense Should Give Them Edge article feature image

Rey Del Rio/Getty Images. Pictured: Jack Nunge and Luka Garza.

  • The Iowa Hawkeyes meet the Wisconsin Badgers on Thursday night in Madison.
  • It's a battle of contrasts between Iowa's powerful offense and Wisconsin's lockdown defense.
  • Which side will prevail in a matchup that will be key for seeding in the Big Ten Tournament?

Iowa vs. Wisconsin Odds

Iowa Odds -1.5
Wisconsin Odds +1.5
Moneyline N/A
Over/Under 145.5 (-105 / -115)
Time | TV Thursday, 7 p.m. ET | ESPN
Odds as of Wednesday afternoon and via PointsBet.

The Iowa Hawkeyes travel to Madison to challenge the Wisconsin Badgers in what is a huge game for the Big Ten standings.

These teams are separated by one-half of a game in the standings as they battle over seedings ahead of the conference tournament. 

Iowa was sitting at 12-2 halfway through January with its only losses coming to powerhouse Gonzaga and Minnesota in overtime.

It hit a bumpy batch after that, losing four of the next five games but have rebounded well to win its last two. This is an Iowa team that has the most efficient offense in the country and presents challenges all over the court for opposing defenses. 

The Badgers are 15-7 on the year and 9-6 in the Big Ten, which has them sitting in fifth place.

They have been trading wins for losses over the last eight games and are coming off a tough loss to Michigan. Wisconsin has had a brutal schedule of late, and things don’t get easier over the final few games of the season. Wisconsin has seen a decline in offensive production from multiple players and hasn’t looked in-sync during the last month.

When Iowa Has the Ball

Iowa’s Luka Garza is virtually a lock to win the John Wooden award, with a current price of -2000.

Garza has been a beast all year, putting up 24.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Coach Fran McCaffery has surrounded Garza with a plethora of shooters, which makes this offense one of the toughest to defend in the country. Joe Wieskamp averages 15.0 points and Jordan Bohannon contributes 10.0 points per game. 

The Hawkeyes have four players who have taken more than 50 3-point attempts this year, and each one of them converts at an extremely efficient rate:


Iowa is the No. 1-ranked offense in terms of adjusted efficiency, scoring an astounding 127.1 points per every 100 possessions, according to KenPom.

It averages 84.7 points per game, 6.2 points more than second-best Illinois. For reference, Wisconsin averages only 70.3 points per game. The Hawkeyes also hold the best offensive turnover percentage in the country, coughing the ball up on just 13.0% of their possessions.

When Wisconsin Has the Ball

It’s been a tough year offensively for the Badgers, who are averaging just 70.3 points per game, third-lowest in the Big Ten.

The senior-leaden squad has struggled to score down the stretch of games, owing to its lack of players who can create their own shots.

D’Mitrik Trice is one of the few players who can do just that, and he’s averaging 13.6 points per game. Micah Potter is the second-leading scorer for the Badgers, averaging 11.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. But he’s going to have his hands full trying to slow down Garza in this one. 

Senior guard Brad Davison has struggled mightily, averaging 8.6 points per game. He is shooting just 23.4% on two-point attempts, down from his 44.1% last year. In all, he’s shooting 31.6%, down from 39.5% last year.  

Wisconsin defense has been solid to date, allowing just 97.7 points per every 100 possessions in conference play, third-lowest in the Big Ten.

The Badgers have typically held teams below their average field goal percentage and below their average points per game.

Part of that is because they play at a snail’s pace and there are not as many possessions available. There isn’t much to boast about this Wisconsin team, and they’re lacking the consistency to string together wins so far in 2021.

Betting Analysis & Pick

Wisconsin will look to play a slow-paced game and grind out every possession. Iowa wants to play a fast-paced style, feeding Garza inside and allowing the offense to run through him. 

Iowa’s offensive scheme is going to create a lot of problems for Wisconsin, and the Badgers may be lacking the offensive firepower to keep up. I see the Hawkeyes jumping out to an early lead and forcing Wisconsin to play from behind, something it has not done well all season. 

I’m backing the Hawkeyes, who will be fired up and looking to remain in the top four in the Big Ten.

Pick: Iowa -1.5 (up to -2.5).

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