WISCONSIN BADGERS (12-2)
at INDIANA HOOSIERS (10-4)
Assembly Hall – Bloomington, IN
Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:00 pm ET
#24 Indiana will be looking to prevent a three-game losing streak when it hosts a very good #13 Wisconsin team on Tuesday.
Wisconsin is on a roll heading into this gigantic conference battle, as the team has won eight straight games and failed to cover in only one of those contests. Wisconsin is getting it done on both ends of the floor this season, as the Badgers are allowing only 58.8 PPG (8th in NCAA) and are shooting 48.5% from the field as a team (t-27th in NCAA). They’ll look to suffocate Indiana’s offense and continue to take smart shots themselves in this one. The Hoosiers are struggling coming into this game, as they lost at home against both Nebraska and Louisville last week. They are, however, very talented and have one of the better offenses in the nation. Indiana is putting up 86.5 PPG (14th in NCAA) and is capable of getting extremely hot from the outside. Both teams are very good on the boards, as Wisconsin is averaging 40.8 RPG (23rd in NCAA) and Indiana is averaging 44.0 (5th in NCAA). The team that wins the battle on the glass will be in a good place in this one. Wisconsin has had the edge in this head-to-head series recently, though. The Badgers have won three of the past four against the Hoosiers (2-2 ATS), and they have also won five of their past seven games at Assembly Hall. Those two losses have, however, come in each of the past two meetings in Bloomington.
Wisconsin is playing some excellent basketball coming into this game, and the team has been spearheaded by the trio of G Bronson Koenig (14.1 PPG), F Nigel Hayes (14.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.1 SPG) and F Ethan Happ (12.7 PPG, 9.6 RPG). While Koenig is Wisconsin’s point guard, he really serves as more of a scorer for the team. He is capable of getting hot in a hurry, and he has hit 12 of his last 27 attempts from three. Koenig also happens to play well in big games, so he should be ready for the occasion in this one. Hayes is the guy that actually tends to run the show for the Badgers quite often. He is a “point forward” in every sense, as the Badgers rely on him to make a ton of decisions. He almost had a triple-double against Syracuse earlier in the year, and he’ll need to play well against Indiana in this one. That shouldn’t be a problem for Hayes, as he averaged 23.0 PPG in two meetings with the Hoosiers last season. Happ, meanwhile, is the Badgers’ most efficient player. He is averaging nearly a double-double on 66.7% shooting from the floor this season. Happ is, however, miserable from the charity stripe, as he is hitting only 48.9% of his free throws this season. He’ll need to be a bit better from there moving forward. One of the x-factors in this game just might be G D’Mitrik Trice (6.5 PPG), though. The freshman has been a sniper from deep, shooting 58.1% from three this season. It’d be big if he can step it up and shoot it well in Bloomington.
If Indiana is going to get back on track with a victory on Tuesday then both G James Blackmon Jr. (17.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG) and C Thomas Bryant (12.1 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.6 BPG) are going to need to play very well for the Hoosiers. Blackmon Jr. is one of the best scorers in the nation, but he has struggled a bit recently. In Indiana’s two losses this week, Blackmon Jr. totaled just 22 points on 7-for-22 shooting from the floor. He will need to be more active in this game, as the Hoosiers likely need him to score at least 18 points in order to beat the Badgers. Bryant, meanwhile, needs to be a force on both ends of the floor on Tuesday. Wisconsin has one of the best frontcourts in the nation, so Indiana really can’t afford to have Bryant not show up. He’s going to need to do his best to defend the rim, and it’s important that he does so while staying out of foul trouble. F OG Anunoby (12.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 1.1 SPG) must also bring it on both ends of the floor. Anunoby is one of the better perimeter defenders in the nation and he’ll likely spend most of this game guarding Nigel Hayes. If he can shut down Hayes then it’s likely that the Hoosiers will come away with a victory.