What to watch for: Indiana vs. Wisconsin

  • 03/10/2017 8:59 am in

WASHINGTON – After Thursday night’s 95-73 trouncing of Iowa, Indiana will take on Wisconsin on Friday evening in the quarterfinals of the 2017 Big Ten tournament at the Verizon Center.

Wisconsin won the first two meetings this season between the two teams with a seven-point victory in Bloomington on Jan. 3 and a five-point win in Madison on Feb. 5.

The game will tip at 6:30 p.m. ET on BTN with Brian Anderson, Bill Raftery and Mike Hall on the call. Here’s a look at three key storylines in tonights game:

· How will Indiana handle Ethan Happ? The Hoosiers were unable to contain Happ in the first two meetings and the All-Big Ten redshirt sophomore was a major factor in both Wisconsin wins.

In Bloomington, Happ went 8-of-11 and 3-of-4 from the free throw line and finished with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists in a 75-68 win. The story wasn’t much different in Madison as Happ was 8-of-10 from the field and 4-of-7 from the line on his way to a final line of 20 points, seven rebounds, three blocks, three steals and two assists.

Indiana did an excellent job of avoiding foul trouble in Thursday’s win over Iowa, but the Hoosiers have owned the league’s worst opponent free throw rate all season. Will Thomas Bryant, De’Ron Davis and Juwan Morgan be able to defend Happ without fouling?

One thing to note is Happ is coming off his worst stretch of play this season. Over Wisconsin’s last four games, which includes three losses, he’s averaging just eight points per game and is 2-of-14 from the free throw line.

· Can Indiana get out in transition and take care of the ball? Over its last two games, Indiana has 189 points in 150 possessions. Those numbers, however, came against a pair of teams who had no problem getting into an up-and-down game in Ohio State and Iowa.

That won’t be the case with Wisconsin, which limited Indiana to 61 possessions in Bloomington and 63 in Madison.

The Hoosiers started strong in the win over Iowa in terms of taking care of the ball, but regressed as the game went on. It didn’t matter much because of a 12-of-20 performance from behind the 3-point line. It’s not realistic to expect another shooting performance like that on Friday night against the Big Ten’s best defense.

For Indiana to be successful, the Hoosiers need to be smart with decision making, particularly when trying to run. Possessions are likely to be at a premium with Wisconsin’s ability to force a halfcourt game. The Badgers are also the Big Ten’s best in terms of forcing turnovers, which is an Achilles’ heel for Indiana.

· Will Indiana find its perimeter stroke against the Badgers? Indiana has broken out of its shooting slump in recent weeks, but Friday presents a significant challenge in that regard.

In two games against Wisconsin this season, Indiana is just 12-of-35 on 3-pointers. What makes those numbers interesting is that despite its status as the Big Ten’s best 2-point field goal defense, the Badgers are just 13th in 3-point field goal percentage defense.

Over its last eight games, Wisconsin has held just one team – Minnesota – below 39 percent shooting from beyond the 3-point line. And in that stretch, Wisconsin is just 3-5 including losses to Northwestern, Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa.

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  • N71

    If we can plan for Hayes and Happ like we did Jok I like our chances. Previous game we seemed to contain Hayes but Happ went off. I’m not sure I understand Wisconsin’s recent slump or what to expect from them, they looked good their very last game against Minnesota but that was in Madison. I’d hate to be the odds maker for this game, both teams are erratic. I have no idea what to expect.

  • KingofKentucky

    With Wisconsin being great at defending the 2 and bad at defending the 3 does Indiana still play inside out like they did last night?
    I say screw defending Happ and when on offense pound the ball to whomever Happ is guarding and draw contact. Get that cheesehead in foul trouble and force the rest of Wisconsin to pick up the slack. Make Happ think twice about hacking at Bryant and Davis, force the double teams to come and get it out for open threes or the man cutting to the basket.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    i agree, make the bigs of wisky play D and get to the foul line. GO HOOSIERS!!

  • Kyl470

    Force Happ to guard Davis and pound it inside. Davis goes up stronger than Bryant and is more likely to draw a foul.

  • Shaggy_C

    If there’s one thing that cures a slump, it’s a career night against the Indiana University Men’s Basketball Squad. Here’s hoping that IU can keep Happ from inflicting his usual damage against us – third time’s the charm, right? Given how close the last two games were (particularly in Madison) and how bad IU was playing in general at the time, you have to think that we have at least a puncher’s chance of the upset.

    Forget B1G tourney history and IUvUW history, I think we can do it!

  • Koko

    I think we win tonight going away and I wouldn’t consider it an upset.
    We are better than Wisky when all cylinders are pumping.

  • robmac10

    I don’t know who said it yesterday about Iowa, but someone brought up the free throw discrepancy of when we were playing in Iowa City and how fefs in the tourney are more likely to let them play. Definitely kept an eye on that during the game last night and noticed it to be somewhat true. A lot of contact was going uncalled both ways, I like the idea of getting Happ in foul trouble but think it’ll be harder to do just because the refs seem to be lenient on the contact this tourney so far. DD and TB are going to have to go up very strong with the ball to get the calls.

  • pcantidote

    But that is the problem, Wisconsin’s style never allows all the cylinders to pump. They grind our gears.

  • pcantidote

    Wisconsin IS very thin in the front court if we can somehow get him in foul trouble. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • Michael R

    I personally like IU’s chances in this game if the refs let them play as they have so far this tourney. IU played better than Wisconsin in Madison and lost because of light touch fouls. I am of the belief that Happ is a very smart player, but overated in a game where refs allow the boys play through contact. Bryant, Morgan and Davis need to own the paint, avoid turnovers and give Wisky no second chance opportunities…do that and we will be moving on.

  • KingofKentucky

    Agreed. Hopefully, Indiana can force its will on Wisconsin and dictate the terms of this engagement. Can Indiana play a lineup of Davis, Bryant and Morgan and go hard all night? Maybe they could go crazy small with a lineup of Morgan, Green, Blackmon, Newkirk and Johnson?

  • vicbert caladipo

    Problem is PC that Gard rotates his bigs about as well as any coach I’ve seen. There is always someone out there that can score. You never see Happ and Hayes out of the game together Hayes is a solid 6-8 235 and can defend centers. Brown is 6-8 230 and Iverson plays much larger than 6-6. I don’t know if you watched the UW/Minny game. Minny is the biggest team in the league and Iverson on several occasions took it to their bigs. Thomas at 6-8 250 can also provide a few serviceable minutes each half. I don’t think they are too thin…..maybe too thick. Happ is the skinniest big they play and he’s no runway model.

  • pcantidote

    I hear you, but I think Happ is the only true post player. The rest are more like hybrids, like JM. I think if Happ is out of the game that takes them out of a lot of the things they want to do and makes them easier to defend. Just my opinion.

  • Happ is arguably the best defender in the nation. Gotta try to pull him away from the rim or get him in foul trouble. If he’s on Davis, then Davis has to understand positioning well enough. Shot fake and get under him and his arms. If Bryant is in, mix it up, step out and go inside understanding positioning. Get the ball and make a quick move. Can’t hold it. Happ is good enough to handle any bigs by himself.
    With Hayes, just gotta keep your hands up. He likes to do the James Harden. You can’t reach into the cookie jar.

  • robmac10

    If TB plays outside in, I hope he’s learned to not use the bull in a china shop move and lower his head and drill his shoulder into his defender. He’s done that way too many times this season thinking he’s going to get the block.

  • vicbert caladipo

    My opinion is TB needs to get out and run especially when Happ isn’t in the game. Problem with that is he gets gassed easily as evident in him asking to come out after he sprinted the court on back to back possessions yesterday. Our guards need to watch out for Showalter when leading the break. He is notorious for coming from behind and poking the ball out and our guards have had a problem with that all year. JB had that happen by Moss on the break yesterday. This is one game we can’t get away with 13 plus TOs and communication is key. No lazy passes and for goodness sake be in Koenigs face ALL the time. At one point in the first half Bohannon was 4-4 in 3s. That won’t cut it against UW. I think you were the one who said it. We beat Iowa cuz we match up well. Not so with UW. We have to do all the things I’ve listed here as well as hit 3s and hope H & H miss FTs cuz we know they will be shooting them

  • vicbert caladipo

    We were never in foul trouble with the exception of JN in the first half. If anyone believes we will duplicate that tonight, I have some swamp land in Siberia to sell. Just hope we can get them in foul trouble too.

  • INUnivHoosier2

    Get your HUD statements ready!

    The Vasyugan Swamp is in Siberia, and yes, I Googled it.

  • INUnivHoosier2

    Wisky won’t be in red, so the bull should be caged.

  • Koko

    LOL…they do grind our gears. I’m hoping we are well oiled for their challenge.

  • Fifer39

    Call me an optimist or a fool, but I think we’ve began to see a turnaround the last 2 games almost akin to post-Duke last year. We have been more engaged on defense and have been moving the ball better with better decision-making on offense. And when we do those things, we definitely have the talent to compete. Wiscy will tell us whether this turnaround is real or just the result of inferior opponents in OSU and IA. And even if it is real, is it too late?! But I’m backing us for a win tonight.

  • Sandra Wilson

    It has driven me crazy for years that we NEVER shot fake. With Happ, if you don’t, he has the advantage. A large part of drawing fouls is through shot fakes, but I’d be shocked to see any tonight. Just one of the many fundamentals of the game that we lack. Hopefully, in the half court, we’ll slow down our play and take care of the passes. Playing too fast in our half court sets always equals turnovers which equals easy basket for the opponent. Fast breaks are different, but once they have their defense set, take care of the ball. Wisc. is beatable and we have at least as much talent, probably more.

  • Wisconsin isn’t that good of a team so they are for sure beatable. Everyone in the Big Ten is. A conference of mediocrity shows that. Purdue is the favorite and honestly they aren’t a Top 15 team.

  • vicbert caladipo

    Watching Peeyoo and Michigan. This is for Bankshot and anyone else that didn’t agree with me about Peeyoo being the least called for fouls in the bigten, and that Swanigan doesn’t foul. Against NW, at the 3 min mark in the first half they had 1 foul. At the 2min mark now Peeyoo had one foul. A little before that Belein got a T complaining about no calls on CS and Haas down low. Mich was down by 9. After the T, Stinky was immediately called for 2 quick fouls and Mich went up by 4. First, it does work getting T’s. There’s your proof. And refs never seem to call fouls on Peeyoo. There’s your proof

  • vicbert caladipo

    That T worked 2 ways. It woke his team up to go on a13-0 run and it woke the refs up to call a couple on Peeyoo. I’m not saying Stinky should have more fouls than their opponents or saying that T’s always work, but I find it impossible to believe that going after the refs doesn’t result in a few fouls called on the opposition and one foul at the 3 min mark 2 straight games just isn’t right.

  • vicbert caladipo

    Take away all the flops by Swanigan that he gets calls for and the massive discrepancy in fouls and Peeyoo is in 3rd or 4th place in the conference. Gotta hand it to Painter though, he teaches his kids what they can and can’t get away with.

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    Who is the better defender Davis or TB – I see it as a match-up nightmare in favor of Whiskey. I think your right though Davis on the Inside because his footwork is a little better than TB’s. TB is much more active then the DD. JM should get the number on Hayes but then what do you do with Brown.

    IDK – Maybe have our guards beat this team. They are bigger than we are but we are faster maybe we can beat them in transition and get to the fowl line. We are not playing at Whiskey so buckets should actually fall. We are also playing for the GREATER GOOD 🙂 so we should be a little more focused.

    They do a really good job at dribble drive defense and limiting interior passing. If we play an effective inside out game we can win and get into transition when we can I think we can win. But if we let them get in there defensive sets we will just pass the ball around the parameter our confidence will slowly fade.

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    I like your argument for TB and HAPP

    Honestly, is there any sport better than college basketball?

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    The part that scares me is that Whisky’s interior is really good.

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    How much?

  • iugradmark

    Wisky is not a great team this year but their style of play means we will not see the game played in the 90’s like we have with OSU and Iowa. Can Indiana win a game in the 60’s? We are going to find out.

  • vicbert caladipo

    wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo……..down goes stinky…….down goes stinky!!!!! Woooohooo. Now to beat UW and this day will be complete

  • BeatDuke

    I would given McSwain a lot time on Happ – for two reasons. First, McSwain did a good job against the Purdue bigs. Second, Happ struggles with free throws, so hack him a bunch and make him earn it (and get him out of rhythm).

  • INUnivHoosier2

    I’ll give you about $3.50 for it.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Way to go Vicbert!!!!

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Minnesota just won. Richard Pitino has done a really, really great job at Minnesota.

  • pcantidote

    I find it interesting that on other team’s resumes I keep seeing “Indiana” as a good win, and yet we are not projected to be in the tournament. Hmmmm.

  • mharv2631

    If IU can find a way to pull out a victory, they may have a chance at winning the tourney with Mich St and Purdue going down.

  • pcantidote

    Maybe but don’t forget about Michigan.

  • ronb

    right, 2014 NIT, 2015 no place 18-15, 2016 no place 8-23 so one year in the last 4 they have a chance to go to the NCAA. I would not call that a good Coaching record over all. This year he did pull them out of a slump. He is not an elite Coach IMHO.

  • AndyCapp

    To be fair, he didn’t say Pitino was elite, only that he’s “done a really, really great job at Minnesota”. He has done well THIS year, but too early to call it “great”. I agree with you he did pull them out of a slump so maybe in comparison from where they were he has done a really good job turning it around… THIS year.

  • AndyCapp

    Right?!? I think it is an indictment of how relatively BAD the B1G is this year that a number 10 seed is considered a “good win”. Must be in relation to our early season success.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Agreed. I was commenting on this year. I didn’t mean overall.

  • Offense can’t get going… let’s put in Zach McRoberts so we can play 4 on 5.

  • AndyCapp

    Don’t get the BTN and too much snow here in Montana to go to Bdubbs. WHAT is going on with our Bigs? At half and neither TB or DD have scored (0/7)… what gives?

  • Can they make the NIT? Can they win a game there?