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With the focus on Fran McCaffery, we’ve overlooked Wisconsin’s dominant second half vs. Iowa

Jan 6, 2014, 1:19 PM EDT

Adam Woodbury, Nigel Hayes

No. 4 Wisconsin took down No. 22 Iowa in the first marquee matchup of the Big Ten regular season, erasing an 11-point halftime deficit in the process, and all anyone wants to do is talk about Fran McCaffery’s inability to keep his emotions in check.

And to a point, I get it.

When a coach explodes the way that McCaffery exploded — getting himself ejected fro a game that his team is winning on the road by bumping an official — people are going to pay attention. It doesn’t happen often, and McCaffery’s reputation precedes him.

So, like I said, I understand what the focal point is going to be the Iowa head coach.

But that shouldn’t take away from what Wisconsin did.

I wrote on Sunday night that McCaffery cost his team a win, and I still believe that he did. When you’re playing on the road and you give a team that is as good as Wisconsin is on their home floor four free points, it’s going to hurt. The four technical free throws that Ben Brust made turned into a 10-2 spurt for the Badgers, giving their first lead since it was 3-2. It changed the game, and I think we can all agree to that fact before I remind you that the final score was 75-71. Still don’t think those four free throws hurt?

But it’s also important to note that McCaffery’s ejection didn’t change the momentum of the game. Wisconsin had done that on their own, catching fire in the second half while all-but erasing that 35-24 Hawkeye lead. In fact, McCaffery admitted after the game that he was trying to get the first technical because he wanted to wake his team up. He knew that the Badgers had taken control of the game. He was trying to light a fire underneath his team.

The point I’m trying to make here is that while the spotlight is being shined on McCaffery, it’s forcing us to overlook the fact that Wisconsin had taken control of a game where they were utterly dominated in the first half. They beat a top 25 team and a top four team in the Big Ten despite getting ugly games out of their two best players. Frank Kaminsky hit three threes in the first ten minutes and didn’t score again the rest of the night. Sam Dekker finished 2-for-12 from the floor, hitting a couple of key baskets down the stretch after missing his first 10 shots from the field.

Just how good are the Badgers?

Well, I’m not sure, but they’ve gone 15-0 against a tough schedule this season, and they just notched one of their best wins on a night when they spent 20 minutes playing like they were shaving points.

  1. pack93z - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Finally.. Wisconsin was marching back prior to the blowup. There is no doubt the Badgers were atypical the first half comparatively to the season, they looked every bit the part the second half.. before and after the T’s.

    And the calls, there were plenty of calls that went against both teams.. and some at critical spots. See Frank getting raked across the wrist which resulted in the ball going to Iowa late. Or how about the over the backs that were missed all game long.

    If there was bias.. it was the announcing crew on the BTN.

  2. hwkeycubronco - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:43 AM

    The simple fact remains that the game is and should be about the kids on the floor. These coaches in the ears of officials all the time has to stop. The players have no business talking or motioning to the officals. Coaches need to sit down and let the players play.

  3. dbrienzo - Jan 7, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    It’s difficult to believe that all the criticism and blame is being placed on Fran. Ryan has historically formed a strategy where he constantly attempts to intimidate the refs. It is extremely frustrating to go to Kohl Center with the knowledge that without credible officials, there is no chance for the visiting team to win. Iowa is laden with more talent than Wisc and it isn’t even close. Iowa dominated the first half in spite of obvious missed calls, such as the offensive interference, the flop to draw a charge on Marble, which, by the way, was supposed to be a point of emphasis this year. There were at least 7 out of bounds calls which could have gone either way…..Wisc took possesion on 6 of those 7. And as far as Wisc playing a difficult schedule, other than FL at the Kohl Ctr, when Fl had 5 scholarship players, I’m sorry, but I don’t see a good team in their preseason.

    The only redeeming scenario in all this is that the teams will meet again in IA City on Feb 22. I expect the result will be similar to last year when Iowa jumped out to a 30-2 lead on Ryan’s team. They were clearly overmatched at every position. The only thing they did good was to stand at the perimeter and throw in 3’s. Iowa wasn’t allowed to defend until Fran got the T’s. They came just a little too late.

    Something needs to be done about the officiating in the Big Ten, and probably all of CBB. As Bob Knight suggested a decade or so ago now, their gambling activities need to be monitored and their capabilites as an objective official should result in a much higher standard. Attendance is slipping and the officiating is a predominant reason why,

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