Here is everything you need to know about the Iowa State Cyclones and the Wisconsin Badgers in our Iowa State vs. LSU NCAA Tournament men’s basketball preview.
Midwest Region – Second Round
No. 11 Iowa State (21-12) vs. No. 3 Wisconsin (25-7), 5:10 p.m. CT, Sunday, TNT, Milwaukee, Wis.
How They Got Here: Iowa State earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
NCAA Tournament Results: Iowa State: def. LSU, 59-54 (first round); Wisconsin: def. Colgate, 67-60 (first round).
Winner gets: A trip to the Sweet 16 in Chicago next week.
Projected starting lineups
Iowa State: G Gabe Kalscheur, G Izaiah Brockington, F Tristan Enaurna, F Aljaz Kunc, G Tyrese Hunter.
Wisconsin: F Tyler Wahl, F Steven Crowl, G Johnny Davis, G Chucky Hepburn, G Brad Davison.
Players to watch
Iowa State G Tyrese Hunter: Yeah, I know, I highlighted Hunter in the LSU preview. But, honestly, after that game, we have to go there again, right? The Racine, Wisconsin, product went into Milwaukee and played like he owned the joint on Friday night, giving everyone a glimpse of what could come next season when he likely takes his place as Iowa State’s dominant offensive force. Hunter had 23 points, knocking home seven 3-pointers, including what became the game-clincher in the final minute. He had three rebounds, three assists and five steals. He’s completely bought into the system at ISU and has All-Big 12 First Team next season written in big neon letters above his head everywhere he goes. It’s just, he’s playing like it NOW.
Wisconsin G Johnny Davis: He’s a dangerous man, and he showed it against Colgate on Friday. Even though the Raiders did all they could to slow Davis down, late in the game, when it mattered most, the All-American showed up. He finished with 25 points, but he scored the Badgers’ last 14 points in the final six minutes of a close game against the upset-minded Raiders. Davis also had eight rebounds, two steals and a block. He’s just the third consensus All-American in Wisconsin’s history. You get the feeling he’s not nearly done setting the standard at Wisconsin, assuming he doesn’t want to head to the NBA early. Let’s hope he doesn’t. Already one of the game’s best players now, he could be the game’s best player come next season.
Iowa State: Iowa State’s turnaround under head coach T.J. Otzelberger may be one of the best one-year turnaround jobs in NCAA history. The Cyclones won just two games last season and are now plus-19 in Year 1 under the former three-time Cyclones assistant. Otz has done it with defense, getting his array of transfers and rare holdovers from the Steve Prohm era to buy into the ‘no middle’ defense that is so popular in the Big 12. When everything is clicking, that defense feeds Iowa State’s offense, as it did Friday night. There’s a connection between Hunter’s 23 points and his five steals. Izaiah Brockington had a great game too, pouring in 19 points along with three steals. ISU had control of the game with LSU for most of the contest, holding the Tigers to 19 first-half points and forcing 19 turnovers. What shouldn’t be lost in Friday’s win is that it was Iowa State’s first in the ‘Big Dance’ since 2017.
Wisconsin: There’s a metronomic consistency to the Badgers when it comes to the NCAA Tournament these days. With a win on Sunday the Badgers would make the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in the last eight tournaments. Wisconsin has been to six Sweet 16’s since 2011, and only Kentucky has been to more. Head coach Greg Gard has maintained the high-level expectations in Madison, and these days Davis fuels the Badgers. He’s hardly the only player to watch, though. Against Colgate, forward Tyler Wahl scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds, along with four assists and two steals. Guard Chucky Hepburn is a freshman, but he scored eight points, grabbed six rebounds and had five assists on Friday. Guard Brad Davison is worth keeping tabs on, too, as he averages 14.1 points and has more than 100 3-pointers this season. Only Davis has more.
Wisconsin is 4-1 in NCAA Tournament games in Milwaukee and 3-1 against No. 11 seeds. But, Iowa State leads the all-time series 5-3 and has won the last two meetings. Their last meeting wasn’t in Ames, Milwaukee or even Madison. It was in Portland, Oregon, at the Far West Classic in 1981. Iowa State won that game.
Wisconsin 67, Iowa State 61. This should be really interesting because Iowa State’s defense should give Wisconsin fits for most of the game. But, Wisconsin has a trio of proven, consistent scorers and Iowa State only has two. That will end up making the difference down the stretch.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.