Wisconsin possesses one of the most versatile and efficient big men in the country in Frank Kaminsky, whose ability to keep opposing defenses off balance makes him the focal point of coach Bo Ryan’s offense.
The sixth-ranked Badgers may get a sample of what it’s like for the opposition when they go up against No. 25 Iowa’s athletic front line.
Wisconsin looks to win a fourth straight meeting when the Hawkeyes visit the Kohl Center on Tuesday night.
The 7-foot Kaminsky leads the Badgers (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten) with 17.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game while also shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range.
Wisconsin missed Kaminsky’s presence in a 67-62 loss at Rutgers as he sat out with a concussion, but he returned Thursday and finished with 22 points in a 70-55 win over Nebraska.
The Badgers’ guard play also was solid, as Bronson Koenig started at the point in place of Traevon Jackson, who is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on a foot injury suffered against the Scarlet Knights.
Koenig finished with 11 points and hit 4 of 5 from the field, including 3 of 4 from behind the arc.
"We know he has ability, and his teammates know and trust him since he’s been on the floor in a lot of big situations," Ryan said of the sophomore. "The guys relaxed him and he knows what I expect. He knows what his position is, he knows what it entails, so he did what I thought he would do."
Koenig committed one of the Badgers’ six turnovers as they decreased their average to just 8.2 per game – the best mark in the nation. Wisconsin also leads the country in limiting opponents’ free throws, giving teams an average of 12.4 attempts per game.
It hopes to stay around that number against an Iowa team that likes to get to the line. The Hawkeyes (13-5, 4-1) are third in the Big Ten in free throws per game at 23.4, and they went 25 of 35 from the stripe in Saturday’s 76-67 home win over Ohio State.
Forward Aaron White scored 10 of his 22 points from the free-throw line and had 18 in the second half. Of the players who have scored at least 250 points, White leads the nation with 41.0 percent of his coming via free throws.
"I tried to make things happen and they were pressuring us," White said. "When teams do that, you have to go right by them, and that’s what I was trying to do."
Despite their size, the Hawkeyes – 3-0 in true road games – can run an efficient fast break. Jarrod Uthoff, a 6-9 forward who spent one season but didn’t play for Wisconsin before a messy breakup led to his transfer, is averaging 14.8 points and has hit 41.7 percent from 3-point range in conference play.
Adam Woodbury at 7-1 also can run, and he scored a season-high 13 points against the Buckeyes.
"They’re going to look to push in transition," Badgers forward Duje Dukan told the team’s official website. "That’s where they get a majority of their points. Along with their rebounding, they’re long and athletic, that’s a key."
Although Wisconsin has won the last three meetings, they’ve been decided by a total of 13 points. Kaminsky had 21 and Koenig had 12 off the bench as the Badgers won 79-74 on the road Feb. 22.
White was held to a season-low four points in 30 minutes.