What to Expect: Wisconsin

  • 02/04/2017 2:14 pm in

Indiana is back on the road Sunday afternoon as the Hoosiers travel to the Kohl Center to take on Wisconsin. The Badgers are 19-3 overall, 8-1 in the conference and unbeaten at home.

The game will be broadcast at 1 p.m. ET on CBS with Carter Blackburn and Clark Kellogg on the call:

In the preseason, Sunday’s matchup between Indiana and Wisconsin in Madison was viewed as one of the Big Ten games to circle on the calendar.

But as the season has played out, the game has lost some luster. Wisconsin has largely lived up to expectations. The Badgers have won six in a row and are up to No. 10 in the Associated Press top 25.

The story in Bloomington is much different. Indiana is just 15-8 overall and 5-5 in Big Ten play. Injuries have been a major factor, but the defensive struggles and turnovers play into the equation as well. Indiana hasn’t won at Wisconsin since 1998 and is 2-14 against the Badgers under Tom Crean.

The two teams met in early January in Bloomington, a game that Wisconsin led 16-2 to start and then took control of in the final eight minutes. The Hoosiers have just one true road win this season and Sunday’s contest is an opportunity to get a resume building win.


As one of the Big Ten’s most talented and experienced teams, it’s not surprising to see Wisconsin at the top of the league standings. Greg Gard, in his first full season as Wisconsin’s head coach, starts four seniors and a redshirt sophomore.

Wisconsin’s best player is Ethan Happ, who is currently second in Ken Pomeroy’s Big Ten player of the year standings and third in his national player of the year standings.

Happ is using 31.5 percent of Wisconsin’s possessions in league play and is in the top 10 of the league in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. He’s excellent at drawing fouls (46.1 percent free throw rate), but is hitting just 50 percent from the line in Big Ten games. He’s also first in the Big Ten in steal percentage and 17th in block percentage. Happ’s 14.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game both lead the team.

Nigel Hayes was the preseason Big Ten player of the year, but he’s currently the third best player on his team. He’s shooting just 23.5 percent on 3s in league play and 45.7 percent on 2s. He has excelled at getting to the line, but is shooting just 60 percent there.

Vitto Brown, who averages 7.6 and 4.6 rebounds per game, is a veteran presence who is making 50 percent of his 2s in conference play. Charles Thomas, a 6-foot-8, 252 pound forward, plays sparingly as a backup. Thomas is a decent finisher (50 percent on 2s) and has knocked down 18 of his 20 free throw attempts this season.

The backcourt rotation is anchored by senior Bronson Koenig, one of the nation’s most clutch players, and veteran Zak Showalter. Koenig battled foul trouble in the first meeting in Bloomington, but still had 17 points and hit all five of his 3-point attempts. Koenig is hitting 46.4 percent of his 3s in Big Ten games.

Showalter is fourth on the team in scoring at 7.8 points per game. He’s leads the Big Ten in 2-point field goal percentage in conference games at 73.1 percent.

Ultra-athletic sophomore Khalil Iverson and freshman D’Mitrik Trice, the younger brother of former Michigan State guard Travis Trice, both play rotation minutes off the bench. Iverson is a great finisher at the rim, but can’t shoot. The 6-foot Trice is making 47.8 percent of his 3s overall, but just 25 percent in Big Ten games.


Wisconsin is the Big Ten’s best defensive unit and the Badgers are sixth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy’s stats.

The Badgers are great at forcing turnovers and do a good job at taking care of the ball themselves. For an Indiana team that has struggled mightily in both areas, it has to be a huge concern.

Indiana has put together some stellar offensive performances against great defenses this season, but the Hoosiers had James Blackmon Jr. in those games. He’s not likely to be available on Sunday in Madison.

For the Hoosiers to go on the road and win, a huge effort on the offensive glass and a strong shooting performance are musts.


Of Indiana’s eight remaining games, this is the worst opportunity for a win according to Pomeroy’s win probabilities. His model gives Indiana just a 17 percent chance of winning and favors Wisconsin by 11. The Vegas line opened at Wisconsin by 12 early Saturday afternoon and the Sagarin ratings like Wisconsin by nine.

The Kohl Center is one of the Big Ten’s most difficult venues to win in and the Badgers are 12-0 in the building this season. Given Maryland’s narrow loss at home to Purdue on Saturday afternoon, Wisconsin can remain alone in first in the league with a win.

A win for Indiana would obviously be a huge boost for the NCAA tournament resume, which currently has the Hoosiers in the field, but it won’t remain there without a few more key wins.

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  • pcantidote

    My expectations? A methodical slow painful death.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    OT: did you guys see that Rutgers beat PSU by 11 in Happy Valley?!?!

  • Missing Moye

    Followed by a forum full of “Fire Crean” posts?

  • Pman

    While expecting a loss, I hope to see Green feeding the post over and over. Bryant deserves the chance to shine and with the short handed line up it appears Crean has learned inside out works.

  • KingofKentucky

    “17% chance for a win”…pfffftttttt we got this one in the bag.

  • SidelineSportsNetwork

    Will this be a swift kick in the behind? Most likely. Yet I will still watch and get incredibly frustrated. Love it.

  • eville87

    If they would we wouldn’t have to post it. Someone else could have 10 years at the helm of our program.

  • Rutgers won by 2.

  • #4 shorts


    What to Expect: A Loss

  • pcantidote

    Well most of the Top 10 has lost this weekend, why not Wisconsin?

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    If JBJ plays against Wisconsin? That is the real story.

  • iugradmark

    Wisky is always a tough game for IU. Their style is difficult for IU even when we are healthy. They don’t beat themselves. Low turnovers, take good shots, slow down the game, cause you to foul them, etc. IU is better in high scoring free flowing games. I expect a low scoring game with Wisky by 10.

  • vicbert caladipo

    Lebum still has 4 years eligibility. Can we pick him up then we can a have game with the biggest egomaniac in college vs the biggest in NBA. You say that’s against the rules? Ok UW 74-IU 60. Over/under for most blocked against TB. I’m saying 4. He will take over 20 shots cuz there won’t be many clean 3 pt opportunities and we aren’t dribble driving this team. The bus should have a sign saying TB or bust. If he plays like he has been and Happ gets in foul trouble, we’ll be in it.

  • Missing Moye

    So in other words, Wisconsin plays really solid, fundamental basketball and we struggle against it. Go figure.

  • IU84

    if we can keep our turnovers under 30 we should be able to keep the score within 20 points. word on the street is the sign coaches have been working OT, expecting some gems.

    sadly, it’s going to have to get worse to get better.

  • Spooky

    This one could get ugly fast. We’ll be lucky to lose by single digits.

  • Spooky

    No. A forum full of “give Crean a brand new contract” posts would be more deserving and appropriate, right?

  • Spooky

    Haha good one.

  • Spooky

    I wonder if CTC breaks out the signs for this one? What would be some good reminders for this game? “Don’t forget to breathe”? “Sprint with both feet”? “Don’t poop your pants during the game”?

  • pcantidote

    The signs on the bench should say “Watch how they play defense”.

  • Jeremy

    I look for Crean to implement a strategic plan based on all his knowledge of xx and ooo to take control of the game. A coaching masterpiece designed to offset our injuries and implemented by this future coaching hall of famer. Bahahahhaahaha

  • Justin Beard

    The good ol’ “Hey, At least Bo still isn’t the coach”

  • Dave Carnes

    Hey man I’m out you got any to sell

  • SCHoosier

    After a 3 OT win..and leaving it all on the floor.. against PSU…hard to figure IU for this game. Could come out in a daze or fired up. Not sure it matters much playing at WIS. Every TO we have results in them have more opportunities to milk the clock and maximize their possessions. Koenig will handle the outside…Happ will use his All-American garbage game to take care of the inside. Badgers by 9.

  • Spooky

    Lol I know right. Thank God I don’t lie to myself that much for real. But some on here seem to.

  • Outoftheloop

    Expect a Loss. Fight for a Win.

  • Lance76

    I hope Hayes doesn’t get a phantom call just because the IU player is breathing. We really need to figure out the answer to to playing Wisky.

  • vicbert caladipo

    By the looks of the amount of comments, I take it not many are fired up for this game.

  • IUBizmark

    We don’t. IU does. 2-14 against one of the better teams in the conference isn’t acceptable if you expect to compete for titles.

  • This game might tell more about this team than any of the past few. All I’m looking for in this one is some fight and a lot of effort. Not expecting a win, but I do expect a good showing and a good game. How will they face up to a really big challenge like this team on the road? Are they going to fight, or crumble…

  • Guyton25

    I can’t hold it in… there’s 9:00 to go in the first and I can’t watch Devonte Green anymore… he went up for that fastbreak layup not even knowing Happ was right behind him the whole time?? Then he travels… he’s constantly making mistakes every game. Idk why he gets so many more minutes than CJ. He’s apart of like 75% of all our turnovers when he’s in. This offense just feels and looks terrible. I have no confidence when we havce the ball. It makes me want to turn the game off. I NEVER feel like that. We have no shooters left, we shoot the ball way too much, good teams take away passing lanes to Bryant, and we have no idea how to involve Bryant when they won’t let us pass it to him when he’s posted up. RUN HIM OFF PICK N’ ROLLS MORE >_<

  • But there’s a ton of fight and some decent defense. Within four with 4:44 left in the half, if the kids could just hold onto the ball they might have a chance playing like they are.

  • Guyton25

    lol, right after I posted this they started running TB off the perimeter, he hit a few shots, CJ got all the minutes over DG, and we went on that 14-2 run. That’s exactly how we have to play against them. Great D on both sides too for sure.

  • Win or lose, I’ll take that half. Really strong effort from a depleted team. Not sure how the second half will turn out, but I’m proud of the effort so far.

  • Fifer39

    It just sounds dire listening on the radio. Mind you, I do have badgers radio commentary!

  • Piker

    Very happy with IU play. Love the more agressive D help and traps

  • Guyton25

    If we play this way against anyone else in the Big Ten it’s a win. Our defense has really stepped up and we’re running our offense exactly like this team is supposed to now.

  • SidelineSportsNetwork

    Just bad. Bad, bad, bad.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Ha! ESPN had the score as 60-49. Regardless, a very surprising win for RU and a very disappointing loss for PSU. How do you lose at home to Rutgers?