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The Morning Dish – Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January 21, 2015 The Morning Dish No Comments

Some will call it a masterpiece; others may still think of the game more as an eye sore. Either way, what Wisconsin did Tuesday night is something extraordinary, even by its own lofty standards.

The Badgers pounded Iowa 82-50 Tuesday night in as ruthlessly efficient an offensive performance as you’ll ever see. Wisconsin committed one turnover. Uno. Un. It shot 48.3% (29 of 60), including 9 of 23 from three-point range, grabbed 11 offensive rebounds off its misses, and made 15 of 19 free throws.

It was typical Badgers: methodical, fundamental, patient, statistically good-but-not-great, yet all executed by an exceptionally skilled offensive team. Some will still call them boring to watch. Whether their style looks slow or not, though, the fact is Wisconsin scored 82 points against what many think is a pretty darn good team. If that’s slow, many teams should be falling over themselves to find the details of how they can play “slow” like the Badgers.

There really isn’t a whole lot more to say about Wisconsin: this team is a Final Four frontrunner. Has been from the start, and barring injury, will be in March.

As for Iowa, we have our latest example of just why it’s hard to trust the Hawkeyes. Show a little leg, then take it away. This is the same team that just completed a sweep of Ohio State, yet on this night put up about as much of a fight in Madison as teams like Northern Kentucky and Tennessee-Chattanooga did. Whether the NCAA’s nitty-gritty reports indicate it as such or not, make no mistake: this is a bad loss. Iowa should be better than this by now. That it’s not should be of serious concern.

Side Dishes:

  • Iowa State and Kansas State played an entertaining game, even with both teams stalling out their offenses late. (Want another reason why scoring is down? Too many team ditching their offense late in games to bleed clock and then run isolations) The Cyclones prevailed 77-71, finishing on a 10-2 run over the final four minutes.
  • Was anyone surprised Kentucky struggled with Vanderbilt? They shouldn’t have been. Following their typical script, the Wildcats let another team hang around before winning 65-57.
  • Davidson responded in a big way after a blowout loss to Richmond, snapping Dayton’s eight-game winning streak, 77-60. The Wildcats made 12 of 23 three-pointers, but maybe even more impressively held the Flyers to just three three-pointers (and 11 triple attempts total). The Wildcats also won without leading scorer Jack Gibbs, who was out with a knee injury.
  • Syracuse continues to get a lot of mileage out of a very tight rotation. Jim Boeheim played three reserves for a total of 30 minutes last night (it was two for 13 minutes the previous game at Clemson). All five starters scored in double figures as the Cuse held off Boston College 69-61.
  • LSU had maybe its most impressive showing of the season yet, going to Florida and pulling away in the final 10 minutes for a convincing 79-61 win. Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin dominated inside, combining for 36 points and 22 rebounds and also-no small factor in this game-making 13 of 14 free throws.
  • Georgia backed up its win on Saturday over Florida by beating Mississippi 69-64. The Bulldogs are creeping into serious at-large consideration. Ditto Tennessee, which won at South Carolina 66-62 and is now 12-5.
  • Valparaiso continues to pile up a gaudy record. The Crusaders are 18-3 after a 77-62 win at Youngstown State. Valpo keeps pace in the Horizon with Wisconsin-Green Bay, which disposed of Illinois-Chicago 78-55.
  • Michigan responded well in its first game without Caris LeVert, coming back in the second half for a 54-50 win at Rutgers. Also, Nebraska got a needed win and continued Minnesota’s misery by topping the Gophers 52-49.
  • Southern Mississippi didn’t play Tuesday night, but the school did announce self-imposed sanctions holding itself out of postseason play this year, as a result of an investigation into the program from the past two years under former coach Donnie Tyndall, who is now at Tennessee. Self-imposed sanctions almost always draw an arched eyebrow, and in this case they are undoubtedly intended in part to hit the program while it’s down-the Golden Eagles are 5-11 and weren’t going anywhere this postseason.

Tonight’s Menu

Buffalo at Central Michigan  Believe it or not, this may be the most interesting game of the night. Two of the MAC’s best teams, and two teams many don’t know much about. They should start getting to know them.
North Carolina at Wake Forest (7 p.m. EST, ESPN2)  A quite tricky game for the Tar Heels. Wake has already given Louisville and Duke a tough time in ACC play.
Memphis at Tulsa (7 p.m. EST, ESPNU) 
The Tigers continue to improve, and now they have a golden shot against the Golden Hurricane, the undefeated AAC leaders.
Marquette at St. John’s (7 p.m. EST, FS1)  How does SJU respond after losing to DePaul on Sunday? Marquette is no layup for anyone in the Big East; Steve Wojociechowski has the Golden Eagles playing very, very hard.
SMU at Tulane (9 p.m. EST, CBSSN)  Really watching the Mustangs right now to see how they play through their many distractions of late. If it’s close, go with Tulane-the Green Wave is 7-2 in games decided by eight points or less.
Indiana State at Northern Iowa  The Sycamores were 4-0 in the MVC…until falling to last-place Drake. We’ll get a better idea of how much a contender ISU can be in the league with this one.
Evansville at Loyola (Ill.)  The first meeting between these two MVC foes (and former Midwestern Collegiate Conference rivals) was one of the better games this season, a 71-70 Rambler win at the buzzer.

Have a wonderful Wednesday.

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