Men's Basketball

Khalil Iverson set to be Wisconsin’s X-factor for Big Ten tournament run

Khalil Iverson has fired up many Kohl Center crowds with thunderous dunks, and he'll have the opportunity to be Wisconsin's emotional spark in his final Big Ten tournament.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

In Khalil Iverson’s final game at the Kohl Center, he gave the fans a familiar sight: a drive to the basket and a thunderous dunk for the first points of the game that energized the team and the crowd.

Although much of the attention from this season has surrounded senior forward Ethan Happ and sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice, Iverson has provided the Badgers with several outstanding performances in the season’s stretch run.

Unlike teammates like Brad Davison and Brevin Pritzl, who have the ability to make big plays from beyond the arc, Iverson has found late-season success through his physicality in the paint on both sides of the court. He ranks second on the team in both offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds despite standing just 6 feet, 5 inches.

The senior has turned it on in the last month, putting up five double-digit performances in the last six games after just two in the first 24 games.

Iverson’s style of play also has the opportunity to change the momentum of the game. His dynamic dunks often bring the players on the bench to their feet and bring energy to the crowd. In the neutral site games in Chicago, this energy will be especially important. His powerful dunks and blocks at the Kohl Center might be the most memorable for Wisconsin fans, but he’s done his best work outside of Madison this season, and that ability to energize the team without the benefit of a home crowd could be important to making a run in the conference tournament. 

The Badgers will likely need strong performances from role players around Happ to come away with wins against the top competition they’ll face in the postseason, and Iverson’s breakout could go a long way to ensuring Happ has the support he needs. In four games against the three teams above Wisconsin in the Big Ten standings — Michigan State, Purdue and Michigan — Iverson scored just 13 points and at times got swallowed up by those teams’ superior size on the interior. 

If he can reverse that trend and give the Badgers reliable points and his typical stifling defense against the conference’s top teams, Wisconsin will have a much better shot at making it to, or even winning, Sunday’s championship game.

Iverson has made memories throughout his career with explosive plays in front of an energized Kohl Center crowd. If he can continue his strong play throughout this weekend’s tournament, he’ll have an opportunity to be remembered for what he did outside of Madison as well.

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