STANZ: Scouting Wisconsin

Mar 18, 2022; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Johnny Davis (1) reacts after dunking the ball against the Colgate Raiders in the second half during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE — The dust has settled on Iowa State’s thrilling 59-54 win over LSU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and it is time to shift our attention forward to Sunday.

That’s when the 11-seed Cyclones will tip-off with No. 3 seed Wisconsin at 5:10 p.m. in the Fiserv Forum, which is sure to be packed to the gills with Badger fans, to battle for a trip to the Sweet 16 next weekend in Chicago.

This will be the ninth matchup of all-time between these two programs with the last being a 103-79 Cyclone win at Hilton Coliseum back in 1981. Iowa State enters the game holding a 5-3 advantage in the all-time series.

It will obviously come with a considerable amount of personal connection for several of Iowa State’s key figures, including head coach T.J. Otzelberger and Tyrese Hunter.

Otzelberger, a Milwaukee native, is a disciple of former Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett, who is a pillar of Wisconsin basketball having coached at multiple high schools in the state, plus Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Green Bay before going to Madison.

“For me, growing up in Wisconsin, Dick Bennett had a really big impact on me, and his son Tony, in how they defended,” Otzelberger said after the Cyclones’ win over LSU. “Now, I wasn’t fortunate enough to be all that good of a player, so it was my only way to ever find myself on to the court. So for me, that’s my background. That’s how I approach every day.”

Despite finishing his high school career rated as the No. 2 player in Wisconsin’s 2021 class, Hunter never received an offer or any reported interest from the in-state Big Ten program.

The true freshman floor general joined Davidson’s Stephen Curry as only the second player in NCAA Tournament history to record seven made 3-pointers and five steals in a single game while scoring a game-high 23 points in the Cyclones’ victory on Friday.

“It’s motivation,” Hunter said when asked about playing the Badgers during an appearance on ESPN’s College Gameday on Saturday. “They gonna have thousands of people out there, but at the end of the day, it’s basketball… I didn’t care who we played. We could’ve played Colgate, but it don’t really matter.”

Mar 18, 2022; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Brad Davison (34) shoots the ball against Colgate Raiders guard Oliver Lynch-Daniels (33) in the second half during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Numbers

As of Saturday morning, Wisconsin sits at No. 50 nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and No. 37 in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. Iowa State is No. 141 in adjusted offensive efficiency and No. 10 in adjusted defensive efficiency.

The most notable things to take away from that come when you analyze each team’s respective schedule.

Iowa State has played 18 games against teams in the top-30 of KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency, a testament to the defensive strength of the Big 12.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, has played a total of five games against the top-30 adjusted defenses, and three of those games took place before the start of the new year.

The Cyclones played 12 games against the top-15 adjusted defenses while Wisconsin played only two, all the way back on Nov. 23-24, a pair of wins over Houston and St. Mary’s.

The opposing adjusted offenses these teams played are much closer to being similar. The Badgers played eight games against KenPom’s top-30 adjusted offenses while Iowa State played seven such games.

Wisconsin guard Chucky Hepburn (23) holds a beer can that was tossed onto the court after a foul was called on Wisconsin during the second half in the first round game of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Friday, March 18, 2022 at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wis. Wisconsin beat Colgate 67-60. Ncaa19 49

The Personnel

Everything for the Badgers runs through star swingman Johnny Davis, the Big Ten Player of the Year, and consensus first-time All-American.

The 6-foot-5 La Crosse native averages a team-high 19.8 points per game with a 43/32/79 shooting split to go along with a team-high 8.2 rebounds. He also adds 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game.

Davis going head-to-head with Iowa State star Izaiah Brockington on both ends of the floor will likely fly under the radar but should be regarded as one of the best one-on-one battles of this entire tournament.

There will be a similarly intriguing match-up at the point guard spot as Hunter faces off with the Badgers’ freshman floor general, Bellevue, Neb. native Chucky Hepburn, who is averaging 8.2 points and a team-high 2.4 assists. Both of these guys play well beyond their years and are tough-as-nails two-way players.

Brad Davison is still one of the lynchpins for everything Wisconsin does after spending approximately 100 years (give or take a few dozen) playing college basketball. This has been Davison’s best year as a Badger offensively as he’s averaging 14.1 points and shooting 35 percent from deep.

Junior forward Tyler Wahl is Wisconsin’s most significant frontcourt threat, averaging 11.5 points per game on 51 percent shooting plus 5.8 rebounds.

Mar 18, 2022; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Tyler Wahl (5) yells as he flexes in the game against the Colgate Raiders in the second half during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Final Thoughts

All things considered, I like this matchup for Iowa State.

As I mentioned before, Davis vs. Brockington is going to be appointment television as I expect them to go at each other early and often. We’ve seen Brockington play some of his best games against elite wings, including a pair of standout performances against Kansas (and Ochai Agbaji) and Iowa (and Keegan Murray).

Hunter likely won’t get as much room to operate in this game after his performance against the Tigers, especially when you consider the type of gritty defender on the other side in Hepburn.

The frontcourt will be the biggest question mark and the place Wisconsin can probably pinpoint as its biggest advantage entering the game, but I like the matchup for Iowa State guarding Wahl, who I’d describe as a finesse big, better than someone like TCU’s Eddie Lampkin, who most certainly can only be described as a power big.

Crowd noise could play a significant role in this game, as well, and I’d guess it is a pretty considerable factor in the Badgers currently sitting as 4.5-point favorites with sportsbooks.

Regardless of the crowd, Iowa State, a program that won only two games last season, is playing with house money. Nobody expected the Cyclones to be in this position, to begin with, so I don’t expect the crowd to be an intimidating thing for this squad.

Will Iowa State beat Wisconsin on Sunday and advance to the sixth Sweet 16 in program history?

I’m not sure I’m ready to go all the way and make that declaration yet, but I think this game does set up favorably for Iowa State to give themselves a chance. As always with this team, it will largely come down to shot-making.

If shots are falling, it wouldn’t shock me at all to see the Cyclones dancing their way to the Windy City.

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.