What to Expect: Wisconsin

  • 02/02/2015 4:38 pm in

Indiana returns to the road for the third time in four games on Tuesday night when it travels to the Kohl Center to take on Wisconsin. The Badgers, ranked No. 5, are 19-2 overall and sit in first place in the Big Ten standings at 7-1. 

The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET:

If not for a surprising loss last month to Rutgers in Piscataway – a game in which Wisconsin was without Frank Kaminsky and lost Traevon Jackson to injury – Bo Ryan’s Badgers would be unscathed in Big Ten play and a full three games ahead of the field.

As it stands, Wisconsin sits two games clear of its conference peers in the loss column and looks poised to win the league running away. The fact that an inevitable league crown will come without Jackson in the lineup for most of the conference schedule speaks to just how big of a separation there is between Wisconsin and the rest of the Big Ten.

The team Indiana will face on Tuesday night is the class of the conference, an offensive juggernaut and the league’s only legitimate chance to end a national championship drought that’s nearing 15 years.


Wisconsin is not only the class of the Big Ten right now, it’s also the class of the country right now in terms of offensive efficiency. Indiana’s offense is elite nationally with an average of 1.17 points per possession on the season, but Wisconsin’s is even better at 1.25 points per trip against a schedule that ranks in the top 35 nationally in terms of difficulty.

The 7-foot Kaminsky is arguably the toughest matchup in the conference because of his ability to step out, finish in the post and also facilitate the offense when defenses focus on him. In Big Ten games, he’s making 38.9 percent of his 3s, 58.5 percent of his 2s and over 80 percent of his free throws. Most of Kaminsky’s success comes from the center and right side of the floor, as shown below by Shot Analytics:


But as good as Kaminsky is – he’s a legitimate national player of the year contender – it’s his supporting cast that separates Wisconsin from the rest of the league. The Badgers have five of the top eight players in the conference in terms of effective field goal percentage in league games and Kaminsky is shooting the lowest percentage of the five.

Junior forward Sam Dekker, who is 6-foot-9, is making 69.8 percent of his 2s in league play and ranks in the top 15 in the conference in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. He’s particularly dangerous on the right wing 3-pointer, where he’s hitting 43 percent on the season.

Sophomore forward Nigel Hayes is another guy who will cause significant size problems for Indiana at 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds. Hayes is making 55 percent of his 2s in Big Ten play and 47.1 percent of his 3s.

Frontcourt backups include 6-foot-10 senior Duje Dujan and 6-foot-8 sophomore Vitto Brown. Dujan has taken 16 of his 33 field goal attempts in conference play from behind the 3-point line and Brown has struggled from the field in limited attempts (31.8 percent shooting).

With Jackson’s foot injury, sophomore Bronson Koenig has stepped into the starting lineup and the Badgers continue to thrive. Koenig has the third lowest turnover percentage of Big Ten players in conference play and is making 50 percent of his 3s. Senior Josh Gasser is another guy who rarely turns it over – he’s fourth in turnover percentage behind Koenig) and is making 38.2 percent of his 3s in league play.

Sophomore guard Zak Showalter is seeing spot minutes as a result of Jackson’s absence, but has made just three of the 10 shots he’s attempted.



On paper, this matchup features two of the top four offenses in the Big Ten and the top two teams in terms of keeping opponents off the free throw line.

It also features a team in Indiana that’s surrendering 1.11 points per possession in conference play against a team that’s scoring 1.27 points per trip. The ability for Indiana to keep this game close probably hinges on Wisconsin having an off shooting night (unlikely) or the Hoosiers using their own high-powered offense to try to keep up against a Badger defense that hasn’t been great (more likely of the two scenarios). Wisconsin is just 11th in effective field goal percentage defense in conference play and Indiana should be able to produce some solid looks.

But to keep things close against a team that will control a slow pace and rarely turn it over, Indiana simply cannot afford to turn the ball over or allow second chance points.


Indiana opened as a 15-point underdog in Vegas and KenPom agrees with that line as his model predicts a 15-point win for the Badgers and just a nine percent chance of an upset. To put that in some perspective, Pomeroy actually had Rutgers winning at Indiana as a more likely scenario (1o percent chance) than Indiana winning at Wisconsin on Tuesday.

Indiana’s last three trips to Madison have resulted in an 11-point loss in 2014, a 7-point defeat in 2012 and a 9-point loss in 2011. The Badgers have never lost to the Hoosiers under Ryan at the Kohl Center.

If IU is unable to put up better resistance defensively than what we’ve seen in recent road trips to Ohio State and Purdue, the Hoosiers face a major uphill battle to pull off what would be a pretty significant upset.

(Photo: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images North America)

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  • Brian Goodman

    The thing is, he’s doing that recruiting from Wisconsin. Imagine if he had Assembly Hall and “It’s Indiana” to recruit.

  • calbert40

    hahaha! They’re paying for these comments now?!

  • calbert40

    Agreed. That’s why pace of play is such a big deal tonight. UW is crazy efficient. They don’t need a ton of possessions to score 75-80 points. We aren’t as efficient. However, without looking at the stats, I bet their is a point of diminished returns for UW as their possessions start to pile up. In other words, I would guess that since they like to play slow, that as their possessions increase, their efficiency decreases. Just a guess, though. I don’t know where to find stats like that…other than in Bo’s office, and try as I might, I haven’t been able to get in!

  • calbert40

    But UW is the only major program really recruiting Wisconsin. Maybe Minnesota, and UW is considerably better than MN. In Indiana, he’d be recruiting against all the big boys for national level recruits as well as Purdue, Illinois, Iowa, etc for the next tier down. I think it would be difficult for him.

  • Not expecting a win, but I am expecting a hard-fought game and a strong effort by the Hoosiers. There is never a game that I count them out. One never knows what might happen.

    One thing in IU’s favor: snow storm up north might keep the crowd lower than usual, hopefully small and mute.

  • This is the one game I basically expected to lose this year. I often favor Wisconsin and hope they win all the rest of their games after losing tonight, as it’s good for the conference to have a #1 seed and/or player of the year. That’s the extent of my good will tonight. IU by 4 in OT.

  • Guyton25

    Well when you put it like that.. 🙁

    Love the Coverdale pic, btw

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Success is the fans enjoying the team’s performance and their coaches pursuit of excellence . . . no a linear model that does not succeed!

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    That SUX!

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Who says the past is a future indicator of success? Was kaminsky successful his 1st 2 years @ UW? That argument is lame!

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Exactly, IU beat UW like a ton from 1981 to 1997 on th courts! The trend has not been halted as, they now are the juggernaut.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Dude, I do not enjoy our mediocre performance. How much Kool-aid does it take to admit u r an addict?!

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Xomg, not with his coaching acumen! Lol

  • Sam

    I know, he’s such a slouch! 😛

  • Brian Goodman

    I’m talking in the sense of the prestige of the program. Even with the sustained success he’s had it’s still hard to get recruits to go to Wisconsin. I’m saying if he had Indiana’s program, facility, and history to recruit with.

  • calbert40

    Do you think I do? Expectations are fine, but realistic and reasonable expectations are so much more superior. Typically speaking, it is those who espouse the unrealistic and unreasonable expectations/beliefs that are the Kool-Aid drinkers. Maybe you should come up with a different non-fact based argument to use on me?

  • calbert40

    How you gleaned that from my argument is beyond me. In your “rebuttals” to my points, you have said my arguments are “lame” and I was a Kool-Aid drinker. Classic. Well done.

    However, I will add that if the past is not an indicator of future success, then our status as a blue blood program based on our past successes has no bearing on this year’s team or any other team in the future, right?