What to Expect: Wisconsin

011412aeOutright first place in the Big Ten will be on the line tonight in Assembly Hall as No. 2 Indiana hosts Wisconsin. The Badgers have won 10 in a row against the Hoosiers, including four in a row in Bloomington. 

The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 9 p.m. with Mike Tirico and Dan Dakich on the call.

2,176 days. That’s how long it’s been since Indiana last beat Wisconsin. The Badgers have completely dominated the series of late, dating back to Kelvin Sampson’s second (and final) season when Brian Butch banked in a 3-pointer to lift Wisconsin past IU.

Indiana hopes to reverse the recent string of hard luck, and get a lead on the rest of the Big Ten pack, later tonight as Bo Ryan and Wisconsin come to Bloomington. The Badgers have won six straight, including three Big Ten games, but two of those wins are over Penn State and Nebraska. The lack of a true test thus far has Wisconsin scoring 1.03 points per possession in league play while only giving up 0.82 per possession, good for a 0.21 efficiency margin. That figure ranks second in conference play behind Michigan. Tonight’s game should also be an interesting chess match in terms of pace as Wisconsin is averaging just 58.5 possessions in Big Ten play compared to 72.2 for the Hoosiers.

PERSONNEL

Jordan Taylor graduated and moved on to a professional career in Italy, but Ryan returns plenty of experience from a group that advanced to the Sweet 16. The centerpiece is big man Jared Berggren, who has improved steadily over his career and is having his best season thus far. Berggren leads the team in scoring at 13.4 points per game, is second in rebounding at 6.4 per contest (11.6 OR%) and has a team-high 33 blocks. He’s also being whistled for just 1.5 fouls per 40 minutes and his effective field goal percentage of 59.3 is in the top 100 nationally.

Ryan Evans also returns and despite being undersized at 6-foot-6, he’s one of the Big Ten’s best rebounders. The senior is averaging a team-best 7.8 rebounds and is third in the conference in defensive rebounding percentage. Evans is the second of three Badgers in double figures at 11.4 points per game, but is shooting a woeful 38 percent from the free throw line in 76 attempts. Mike Bruesewitz also returns in the Wisconsin front court and does a little bit of everything. Bruesewitz is shooting close to 67 percent on twos and is also effective on the defensive glass (16.4 DR%).

The new dimension on the wing for Wisconsin is freshman Sam Dekker, who has started three games, a bit of a rarity in Madison and is coming off Big Ten freshman of the week honors. He’s the team’s most accurate 3-point shooter at 41.8 percent, but Ryan would probably like to see a better rebounding presence out of Dekker, who is pulling down just 3.5 per game. Reserve Frank Kaminsky, a 6-foot-11 sophomore, will likely see some time when Berggren takes a break.

With Taylor gone and Josh Gasser out for the season with a torn ACL, Wisconsin’s guard play is still very much a work in progress. Ben Brust is the team’s third leading scorer (11.1) and rebounder (6.3). Brust has connected on a team-high 34 shots from beyond the 3-point line and figures to draw the assignment from Victor Oladipo. George Marshall, who many had pegged as the fill-in for Taylor, has been a bit of a disappointment and has given way to Traevon Jackson, the son of former Ohio State guard and BTN announcer Jim Jackson.

Jackson boasts a team-high 3.4 steal percentage, but also has 26 turnovers which is a high figure when you consider the pace Wisconsin plays at. Marshall’s value has been primarily as a 3-point shooter, where he’s connected on 22 of 53 attempts. Zak Showalter, a freshman walk-on and former high school teammate of Luke Fischer, has played in 14 of the team’s 16 games and provides backup minutes where necessary.

POMEROY PREVIEW

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The aforementioned differential in pace will be the most interesting thing to watch as Wisconsin’s livelihood in this game totally depends on controlling the tempo. If the Badgers can’t make this into a half court game, they’re unlikely to keep within striking distance.

Wisconsin’s strengths lie in being able to defend in the half court and not turn the ball over (14.2 turnover percentage, first in the country). The Badgers are a slightly above average 3-point shooting team (35.3 percent), but they lack the arsenal of weapons to keep up with Indiana offensively if the Hoosiers are operating at anywhere close to their norm. The key for Indiana will be staying patient defensively as Wisconsin attempts to melt the shot clock and suck the energy out of the building by making shots late in possessions.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

Both Vegas and Pomeroy like Indiana to win by double figures and that’s probably a fair assessment, at least on paper, given the Assembly Hall advantage and the personnel for both clubs. If the Hoosiers are able to build a lead and dictate pace early on, Wisconsin will be forced to play out of its comfort zone and deviate from the game plan that leads to outcomes like winning 47-41 at Nebraska.

Second chance points will likely be at a premium as Berggren, Evans and Brust are all very effective on the defensive glass, which makes it important for IU to make shots early and put some pressure on Wisconsin. Ultimately, if the Hoosiers are making shots from the perimeter, they’re capable of destroying a top 15 defense (see Minnesota coming into Saturday’s game). We should learn even more about how far this group has come defensively as guarding Wisconsin requires discipline and patience that few other teams can command.

  • MillaRed

    This is the first time in about 5 years I will walk in a bar with an IU hat on game day and people will fear the Hoosier. FEAR THE HOOSIER!

  • MillaRed

    As long as he doesn’t go creepo like Rex Ryan and his Sanchez tatoo he’ll be fine.

    BTW, the very fact you mention CTC wearing this shirt violates 352 recruiting rules. Nice work SC.

  • MillaRed

    As long as he doesn’t go creepo like Rex Ryan and his Sanchez tatoo he’ll be fine.

    BTW, the very fact you mention CTC wearing this shirt violates 352 recruiting rules. Nice work SC.

  • MillaRed

    Vag-ers? I like that. I’m going to find the biggest, rowdiest guy in the bar tonight when we are up 15 and say, “Hey, The Vag-ers Suck!.” Consequently, this will be my last post ITH. Nice knowing you guys.

  • twarrior87

    yes, I just hope its not a snooze fest; I would hate to have to watch that UW style game all the time.

  • Eastwood88_2

    Never heard Badger fans called that. Nice, but more than Illinois?

  • HoosierCandyPants

    We just need to weave a piece of cheese in Ryan Evans box and we will win by 20.

  • sloan screen #45

    I hope the guys take this one personal and unleash a beat down on the badgers. I cant stand Wisky especially after they ruined my trip to the B1G tourney last year.

  • sloan screen #45

    I hope the guys take this one personal and unleash a beat down on the badgers. I cant stand Wisky especially after they ruined my trip to the B1G tourney last year.

  • IUMIKE1

    lol doesn’t cut it……Laugh…Out…..FREAKIN’…..Loud.

    slol…..still laughing out loud ! ( Mike begans crying also but not from sadness like Milla )

  • IUMIKE1

    Agree, this is a kind of test that we have not had to face yet this season. Think our D, more than anything else, says how this game goes for us.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    To be fair, Greg Graham was not the guilty party, it was the rest of the team for not contesting his drive. It was probably all Cheaney’s fault, someone should ask him about it.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    To be fair, Greg Graham was not the guilty party, it was the rest of the team for not contesting his drive. It was probably all Cheaney’s fault, someone should ask him about it.

  • SCHoosier

    Damn and I ordered them for the entire team for the rematch in Madison. Wonder of Mrs Hollowell will give me the name of her attorney.! IF TC shows up bare chested tonight Millia..its your fault.

  • SCHoosier

    I’ve never been sure those big offensive line the Badgers have in football all had the right chrymo-end -zones. biggest thing at a Packers game in the winter is trying to navigate out of the parking lot without running over one or two of the many “incapacitated” fans lying in t he snow..and that’s no joke.

  • SCHoosier

    I’ve never been sure those big offensive line the Badgers have in football all had the right chrymo-end -zones. biggest thing at a Packers game in the winter is trying to navigate out of the parking lot without running over one or two of the many “incapacitated” fans lying in t he snow..and that’s no joke.

  • SCHoosier

    and there is no steele trap that will hold them

  • Scott Berryman

    Boy o boy. I am wondering if CTC is ever going to get it. I suppose he will in 10 years from now when he still hasn’t hung a banner and hasn’t had a player as good as CZ since. Perhaps then he will think, “I should have ran more plays to get the ball to CZ in the post. 8 shots per game just wasn’t enough.”
    Until CTC makes this revelation, IU goes 12-6 in the Big 10, lands a 3 seed and loses in the 2nd round of the NCAA to an athletic team with a good coach who will undoubtedly out coach CTC.
    I am hoping the Harbaughs lose this weekend so they can come to Bloomington and refresh CTC on how to coach toughness and execute an offense.

  • Scott Berryman

    Boy o boy. I am wondering if CTC is ever going to get it. I suppose he will in 10 years from now when he still hasn’t hung a banner and hasn’t had a player as good as CZ since. Perhaps then he will think, “I should have ran more plays to get the ball to CZ in the post. 8 shots per game just wasn’t enough.”
    Until CTC makes this revelation, IU goes 12-6 in the Big 10, lands a 3 seed and loses in the 2nd round of the NCAA to an athletic team with a good coach who will undoubtedly out coach CTC.
    I am hoping the Harbaughs lose this weekend so they can come to Bloomington and refresh CTC on how to coach toughness and execute an offense.

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