Iowa Women's Basketball

Lisa Bluder: Wisconsin 'is ticked' and 'really tired of this' as Iowa seeks 21st straight win in series

Hawkeyes head to Madison looking to continue dominance on Sunday

Iowa freshman McKenna Warnock grew up near the Kohl Center, site of Sunday's Iowa-Wisconsin women's basketball game. (An
Iowa freshman McKenna Warnock grew up near the Kohl Center, site of Sunday's Iowa-Wisconsin women's basketball game. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Lisa Bluder breaks an Iowa women’s basketball schedule into one-week chunks.

Once the Big Ten season starts, it’s usually a Thursday/Sunday circuit. Over and over for nine or 10 weeks.

This is Minnesota/Wisconsin Road Trip Week. And Bluder thought the Wisconsin game was the Game of the Week.

“You always want to go 2-0, and honestly, I was a little more worried about Wisconsin,” Bluder said Friday.

How come?

“It’s personal for them,” Bluder said. “When it comes to us, Wisconsin is ticked. They’re tired of this. They’re really tired of this.”

Iowa owns an almost-unfathomable 20-game winning streak against the Badgers, and will try to extend it Sunday at the Kohl Center in Madison. Tipoff is 2 p.m.

That’s not a misprint. Twenty in a row, since the Badgers earned an 84-73 verdict Feb. 11, 2007.

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The Hawkeyes have won big, like their 88-61 victory two years ago in Iowa City. They’ve won nail-biters, including three overtime games.

They’ve won. And won, And won. And sometimes they’ve done it with Wisconsin natives (remember Megan Gustafson?).

No wonder the Badgers are “ticked.”

No. 22 Iowa (14-3, 5-1 Big Ten) is favored to continue the trend. The Hawkeyes have won five straight games, including home wins against ranked teams Maryland and Indiana, then Thursday’s come-from-behind 76-75 triumph at Minnesota.

To most outsiders, the Hawkeyes have overachieved this season. In Bluder’s mind, it’s more like they’ve met expectations.

“Coaches always have (higher) expectations,” she said. “The outsiders, the naysayers, they didn’t think we were going to do anything.”

Iowa was not among the top five teams in the preseason predictions by coaches or the media. But one-third of the way through the Big Ten season, the Hawkeyes stand in a three-way tie for the conference lead, with Rutgers and Northwestern.

Wisconsin (9-8, 1-5), on the other hand, has lost three straight since its lone league win, against Penn State. The Badgers dropped a 68-56 decision to Michigan on Thursday at Madison.

Freshman McKenna Warnock, who quickly emerged as a vital member of Iowa’s rotation, hails from Marshall, Wis., about 20 miles from the Kohl Center.

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“She grew up watching (the Badgers),” Bluder said. “It’s going to be an emotional game for her. We want to make her proud.”

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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