Iowa Men's Basketball

Wisconsin vs. Iowa is revenge game ... for everyone?

Jordan Bohannon wants payback. But so does Wisconsin.

Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ (22) passes the ball around Iowa forward Luka Garza (55) during the Badgers’ 72-66 win over the Hawkeyes last Nov. 30 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ (22) passes the ball around Iowa forward Luka Garza (55) during the Badgers’ 72-66 win over the Hawkeyes last Nov. 30 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Sometimes revenge isn’t really revenge.

Iowa wants to avenge its 72-66 Nov. 30 home men’s basketball loss to Wisconsin, but mainly because it feels it let the game get away, not because the Badgers acted like jerks or ruffians.

Wisconsin wants to make up for the last time the Hawkeyes played at Kohl Center, when then-freshman Jordan Bohannon made a 3-pointer from the wing with 9.7 seconds left for the game-winning points as Iowa upset the Badgers, 59-57 in March 2017. Yet, three current UW starters are sophomores who don’t have that game burned in their memories.

Bohannon wants to beat Wisconsin partly because it didn’t recruit him out of high school after two of his brothers, Jason and Zach, played for the Badgers. But he also said Tuesday that had Wisconsin wooed him, “I don’t think it would have changed my mind toward Iowa.”

And, he talks of the “utmost respect” he has for the Badgers program and how much he enjoyed the experience of attending the Final Four and sitting near the Wisconsin bench when Wisconsin was there in 2014 when Zach was a senior.

So let’s get real. Thursday's 6 p.m. Hawkeyes-Badgers contest in Madison is a lot more about trying to add a good thing to the two teams’ NCAA Tournament positioning than settling old scores of sorts.

Iowa (21-8, 10-8) certainly could use an upset win of this nature, given it hasn’t beaten anyone on the road currently projected to reach the NCAAs. Then there’s the ugly fact the Hawkeyes lost their last two games by 20 and 14 points, respectively.

Revenge, however, is more fun to discuss. So ...

“For me, personally,” Hawkeye center Ryan Kriener said, “I want a little payback because we had ‘em here. The last six minutes of that game were just really weird. We couldn’t get a roll. The ball bounces a little differently, we win that game here.”

“We had them on the ropes, an eight-point lead in the second half,” said Iowa’s Luka Garza. “We just kind of let them off the hook, let them come back in the game. Toward the end we weren’t executing down the stretch like we’ve shown we’re capable off in the months past that.”

Iowa led 46-38 with 12:58 left. Then things went askew, and the Hawkeyes had their first loss of the season after opening with six wins. That was 23 games and over three months ago.

But if there’s a lust for vengeance in Madison on Thursday, it may be from Wisconsin fans who remember Bohannon’s big 3-pointer two years ago. On the other hand, Bohannon carries around his own grudge.

“A school that doubted me and doubted what I could do at this level,” he said about Wisconsin. “It just added fuel to my fire ever since I stepped on the floor at Iowa.”

At the same time, Bohannon is happy to bear the brunt of Badger bitterness. He got verbally harassed at Indiana on Feb. 7, then shot the Hoosiers out of that game in the final two minutes.

“I love it,” Bohannon said. “I feed off it.

“You’re not doing anything right if you don’t have haters. I’ve always had that quote in the back of my mind ever since I was little.”

And whose quote is that?

“Jordan Bohannon said that.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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