What to Expect: Wisconsin

  • 01/03/2017 7:54 am in

After a sobering 77-62 defeat at the hands of Louisville on Saturday in Indianapolis, Indiana returns to Bloomington for a Tuesday clash with Wisconsin. The Badgers, winners of eight straight, are 12-2 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET with Dave Flemming, Jay Bilas and Allison Williams on the call:

Entering the Butler game on Dec. 17, Indiana was 8-1 and No. 9 in the Associated Press top 25 poll. The Hoosiers lost to the Bulldogs and haven’t beaten an opponent of note since North Carolina in late November in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.

Over the last 33 days, Indiana has wins over SIU Edwardsville, Southeast Missouri State, Houston Baptist, Delaware State and Austin Peay. And losses to Butler, Nebraska and Louisville.

Is it officially time to panic? Maybe. Maybe not.

Yes, it’s still early in the conference season. After 12 games, only three Big Ten teams remain unbeaten in league play. It’s setting up to be a chaotic Big Ten race. But if the Hoosiers are going to figure into the equation, protecting home court is essential. With a home loss to Nebraska already on the books, Tuesday looms large for an Indiana team that is coming off its most disappointing performance of the season.


Greg Gard, in his first full season as Wisconsin head coach and second season as the head man in conference play, is riding his upperclassmen much like Bo Ryan used to do.

The Badgers have a seven or eight man rotation and it’s largely made up of experienced players who have seen a little bit of everything. Wisconsin starts four seniors, a redshirt sophomore and plays a true freshman and sophomore significant minutes off of the bench.

The frontcourt rotation consists of preseason Big Ten player of the year Nigel Hayes, senior Vitto Brown and Ethan Happ, one of the most efficient bigs in college basketball.

The 6-foot-8 Hayes is Wisconsin’s second leading scorer (14 ppg) and is shooting 53.7 percent on 2s and 35.1 percent on 3s. Hayes is very effective at drawing fouls and getting to the line (63.6% free throw rate), but is converting at just 65.5 percent. Hayes is shooting 70.6 percent at the rim, but just 33.3 percent on 2-point jump shots.

If not for the mammoth start by Caleb Swanigan at Purdue, Happ would have a convincing argument for the title of the best big man in the Big Ten. He’s 19th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage and seventh in defensive rebounding percentage. He’s also a capable shot blocker (3.5 block percentage) and is making 66.7 percent of his 2s. The Achilles heel for Happ is free throw shooting. He’s just 48.9 percent from the line.

Brown, who averages 7.8 points and four rebounds, is a steady presence who can hit the 3 (34 percent). He’s making 72 percent of his 2s.

It’s possible that Charles Thomas, a 6-foot-8, 252 pound forward, could see some spot minutes if the Badgers have any foul trouble. Thomas is a poor finisher (41.2 percent on 2s), but a good free throw shooter at 88 percent in 17 attempts.

The backcourt rotation consists of leading scorer Bronson Koenig (14.1 ppg) and Zak Showalter, who is a streaky shooter. Koenig doesn’t draw many fouls, but is hitting 53.8 percent of his 2s and 35 percent from distance. Koenig is making just 43.5 percent of his shots at the rim.

Showalter is fourth on the team in scoring at 8.1 points per game. He’s been very good finishing 2s (66.7 percent), but is just 34.7 percent on 3s. Sophomore Khalil Iverson and freshman D’Mitrik Trice, the younger brother of former Michigan State guard Travis Trice, will both play rotation minutes off the bench. Iverson is an athletic wing who is a threat to finish at the rim, but isn’t a shooter. The 6-foot Trice, meanwhile, is 18-of-31 on 3s for 53.1 percent. That percentage ranks fifth nationally.


The Badgers present a difficult challenge defensively as they play a slow, efficient pace that requires opponents to lock in for long defensive possessions.

Wisconsin’s average offensive possession length is 19.5 seconds. Only 13 Division I teams currently average a number higher. The Badgers are averaging fewer than 64 possessions a game, which puts a premium on taking care of the ball and not wasting opportunities.

Not only is Wisconsin an elite offensive rebounding team like Indiana, the Badgers are the nation’s third best defensive rebounding team. If shots aren’t falling from the perimeter, the Hoosiers will likely find it difficult to rebound anywhere near their season average on the offensive glass.

Wisconsin’s style of play has shifted a bit under Greg Gard from the Bo Ryan era in that the Badgers are more aggressive to the offensive glass and more turnover prone. That said, Wisconsin thrives on controlling tempo, getting good shots in the halfcourt and generally playing a fundamentally sound brand of basketball.


Indiana, which is now tied for No. 25 in the Associated Press top 25 poll, opened as a one-point favorite over Wisconsin in Vegas. Ken Pom also has the Hoosiers as a one-point favorite and Sagarin has the game as a toss-up.

Coming off of two straight subpar defensive performances, Indiana needs to come out with the disposition it showed against North Carolina more than a month ago to emerge victorious. That was Indiana’s best defensive game of the season as IU challenged shots, played ball screens aggressively and held its own on the defensive glass.

A win would go a long way in calming the negative vibes around the direction of this team. A loss, Indiana’s third straight if it happens, will dig a deeper hole for the Hoosiers in a season that began with so much promise.

Filed to:

  • ForeverIU

    They sure do “get rid of the ball fast”! LOL.

  • ForeverIU

    How about just keeping him out of the game? What is he doing other than leading us to believe that Collin is on the floor?

  • ForeverIU

    Excuse #33!!!!

  • Old_Time_Hoosier

    Thanks Mark. Think about this. Sometimes those guys at the end of the bench can “shame” the better players into greater focus and intensity. How? Play the best D you can. Dive on the floor for that fifty fifty ball. THOSE are the things I saw against Kansas and NC and haven’t seen in recent games.
    How do I know this? I sat at the end of the bench and did it,

  • Old_Time_Hoosier

    Thank you VC. Whatever else you want to say about IU Bball, it’s fun to watch! And, oh, by the way, I’m a Cubs fan for 46 years, so I know how to wait patiently! LOL

  • Kevin Hobgood

    Name 1 game where CTC has dictated the Tempo of a Wisconsin match-up. I think you’ll be hard pressed to find one.

  • Old_Time_Hoosier

    This is wrong, but, “token white boy”?

  • ForeverIU

    You go there at your own peril! Something I might have said in a past life. LOL.

  • Chappy Dan

    Yes!!! Give The Priller the Thriller a chance to become Priller the Killer!

  • Chappy Dan

    Yes dude, why wouldn’t you be? Priller will at least shoot it if he’s open and he’s a tall guy who should have some chances at put-backs after rebounds.

  • only the Nebraska game was inexplicable.

    And considering how close most conference seasons end up, a home game with Wisconsin actually probably is a must win, if there are to be hopes of a championship. It’s also pretty important to right the ship, pronto. If they lose this one, the cracks will really start and chaos threatening thereafter.

  • Chappy Dan

    That’s putting it mildly.

  • I hope they’re pissed. If so, we win.

    Also, Wisconsin deserves a good thumping. They’re due.

  • IU is known to play their best when they have a chip on their shoulder, and play as the underdog. The main question for tonight’s game is whether or not they’re pissed off about recent events, including now sitting at the bottom of the top 25. If there are chips on shoulders, IU has a good shot at this one.

  • Hoosier Hall

    You wouldn’t consider the Fort Wayne loss inexplicable? It certainly shouldn’t have happened. You can live with losing to Butler and Louisville but Fort Wayne? And Nebraska on any floor…

  • Old_Time_Hoosier

    I know I do. But you know what? At my age I don’t give a sh_t! Hartman EARNED his time. McRoberts did not!

  • Hoosier Hall

    I’m in agreement with you on that. Curtis Jones and Deron Davis should get all of those minutes. Maybe Devonte Green with a few here and there.

  • Kwang

    McFloor is that kinda guy, if only he would become an offensive threat.

  • Yes definitely. I must have misunderstood you, thinking you were talking about the past two losses in a row. For some reason. I can actually live with the others, but the Nebraska loss was inexcusable.

  • Old_Time_Hoosier

    I think you’re wrong on that point. All the athletic talent in the world. Just needs to learn how to play basketbal/

  • Old_Time_Hoosier

    Now HE had fire in his belly!!!!

  • John D Murphy

    Things I expect.
    1. High effort level by the Hoosiers. They understand they are standing on fragile ground.
    2. Better shooting at home.
    3. Unconnected defense
    4. Poor decision making leading to TOs
    5. JN will try to personally wear the ball out by dribbling…a lot
    6. TB, OG, and JM will all get blocked down low because we are coached to play soft inside for some reason
    7. TB and DD will dribble into the double team instead of spinning away from it
    8. A lot of clapping
    9. A 7-10 point IU loss

  • SeeingRed

    Agree. I don’t think a win tonight means this team can contend for a league title, realistically. But starting the league slate with these two home losses could cause a serious unraveling. I assume they know this and will play with urgency, even desperation, tonight and get the job done.

  • Fifer39

    Well at least your glass is 2/9 full…could be worse!

  • Fifer39

    Other than TB, it’s often hard to tell whether they’re pissed, pumped, happy, sad…or just wondering what’s for tea.

  • cbags05

    Looks like 2 excuses per turnover.

  • cbags05

    Beat me to it…..gah

  • vicbert caladipo

    Yes I remember him cuz he went to JARED! I think we are saying the same thing. Playing to our capabilities in my opinion IS having the game of our lives cuz we have only played to our capabilities a couple times this year.

  • Great point. I’ve never really thought of that and it’s really true. I can remember JBJ getting fired up a few times, but other than that, they’re all so calm and collected most of the time. Besides TB of course. I’d like to see Juwan or OG break character for once and get fired up. Or the freshmen. (I expect Jones and Green will do so, in good time). Somebody light the fire already.

    Time for the pep band to bring back Hendrix’s “Fire” during time-outs?

  • ForeverIU

    David Macer beat you to it! Great minds think alike!

  • Fifer39

    Also be good to see someone getting fired up when things aren’t going well. Easy to have chest bumps all round after a slam, but I’d rather see someone light a fire after some lame defensive effort or something. I guess that would take leadership though.

    Oh well, here we go…

  • Fifer39

    Switching off – at 17:19 mark!!

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    RJ looks lost in first half.

  • kelton drewery

    Josh Newkirk has to be one of the top point guards in the nation. Then we can always turn guard duty over to Thomas Bryant, smh.

  • ChitwoodIN

    This team….and coach, sucks.
    Seems like we lose to every team who “used” to play like us.
    Guess I’m a has been who knows nothing about Indiana basketball.
    Welcome to the “hope we make the sweet 16” crowd.
    Been watching IU bb for 35+ yrs now…..and now, I’ve noticed I don’t finish games or get excited for tipoff….and I’m positive it has nothing to do with age.
    Well, maybe.
    Maybe it’s due to me being in the age of knowing what it is to win….and how losing really sucks and someone or something must pay for it.
    Yet……life goes on….and so does mundane IU basketball along with the “excusers” and the “YEAH??? BUT DID YOU SEE THE OG DUNK??”

    Yep. Saw us lose too. ?

  • kelton drewery

    Question for anyone. He isn’t the reason for the loss, but why is ZM getting playing time, when we need scoring?

  • Bill Graham

    Precisely what I said going into this game. Knew it was going to be a tough one. Illinois won’t be easy either. Malcolm Hill is the real deal and they actually have a point guard.

  • Kwang

    McFloor = McRoberts McFly = McSwain