What to expect: Wisconsin

  • 01/01/2018 8:57 pm in

Indiana resumes Big Ten play on Tuesday night in Madison as the Hoosiers take on Wisconsin at the Kohl Center. The Badgers are just 8-7 this season, but have won four straight.

The game will be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN with Dave Fleming and Dan Dakich on the call:

Indiana is 0-3 in true road games this season and the road doesn’t get any easier this week as Big Ten play gets rolling again. The first stop this week is Wisconsin, where the Hoosiers haven’t won since Jan. 25, 1998.

The series has been dominated in recent seasons by the Badgers as Indiana went 2-16 against Wisconsin in the Tom Crean era. But this Wisconsin team isn’t the same caliber group that Big Ten fans have grown accustomed to seeing over the last 15 seasons. The Badgers already have seven losses and although all have come to KenPom top 75 teams, they’ve been beaten twice at home by 15+ points already.

The program’s streak of finishing in the top four of the league standings, which currently sits at 16 straight seasons, appears to be in serious jeopardy.


Some dropoff was expected in Madison with the graduation of Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes, Zak Showalter and Vitto Brown, but injuries have really put Greg Gard in a challenging situation.

One key rotation piece, freshman guard Kobe King, is out for the season with a knee injury and starting point guard D’Mitrik Trice is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Trice started the team’s first 10 games and is third on the team in scoring at 9.4 points per game.

So what’s left for Gard to work with?

The obvious headliner is redshirt junior Ethan Happ, one of the best frontcourt players in the country. Happ’s 16.4 points per game lead the Badgers and he’s shooting 58 percent on 2s. Happ is one of the best passing bigs in the country and his 3.5 assists per game (30.7 percent assist rate) lead the team. Happ is also in the top 20 nationally in defensive rebounding percentage and he’s using 32.8 percent of Wisconsin’s possessions. That’s the 15th highest usage rate in the country.

Happ is a terrific post-up player as he’s scored 106 points in 106 post up possessions this season, according to Synergy Sports. That ranks in the 82nd percentile nationally. One area where Wisconsin’s lack of depth has hurt Happ is that he can’t be as aggressive defensively. His steal and block percentages are both down from his first two seasons.

Joining Happ in the frontcourt is 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman Aleem Ford, who prefers to operate on the perimeter. Ford has taken 65 field goal attempts in 15 games and 44 of them have been 3s. He’s shooting 47.7 percent from distance.

Junior Khalil Iverson is one returning Badger with experience and the 6-foot-5 wing is tied for fourth on the team in scoring at 8.4 points per game. Iverson is Wisconsin’s best athlete and a terrific finisher. He’s shooting 65.3 percent on 2s and 72.6 percent at the rim.

The majority of the backup frontcourt minutes are going to 6-foot-10 freshman Nathan Reuvers, who was originally going to redshirt. That plan was scrapped after five games and Reuvers, a top 75 recruit nationally, is averaging 5.3 points in 13.3 minutes off the bench.

The backcourt rotation consists primarily of freshman Brad Davison, redshirt sophomore Brevin Pritzl and several walk-ons who come off the bench.

Davison is a pesky guard who can stroke the 3. He’s shooting 39.1 percent from deep this season and is second on the team in scoring at 11.7 points per game. Davison can also get to the free throw line as his free throw rate of 50.4 is the highest on the team. He’s shooting 76.3 percent from the line.

Pritzl can also shoot it from the perimeter (36.8 percent on 3s) and rarely turns it over (7.8 TO%). Freshman walk-on Walt McGory is the backup point guard with Trice sidelined. T.J Schlundt, a walk-on junior, is also in the rotation and is 4-of-11 on 3s.


Wisconsin has had a major dropoff in taking care of the ball under Gard as the Badgers posted seven straight seasons in the top five nationally in turnover percentage to close out the Bo Ryan era.

The Badgers are still very good at taking care of the ball, but were 106th nationally in turnover percentage in Gard’s first year and 70th last season. This year, Wisconsin is 50th in turnover percentage and is playing just the 346th fastest tempo in the country, according to Ken Pomeroy.

Whether Indiana will be able to generate any offensive rebounds or second chance points in a serious question entering the game. The Badgers are 28th in the country in defensive rebounding and offensive rebounding has been a consistent strength for Indiana’s offense.

The free throw battle could also loom large as Wisconsin consistently keeps opponents off the line and has taken 33 more total free throws than its opponents over the last four games.


The Vegas line opened with Wisconsin as a 5.5-point favorite and Pomeroy’s projection likes the Badgers by six with just a 31 percent chance for Indiana to pull off the upset. The Sagarin ratings like Wisconsin by five.

On paper, this might be Indiana’s best chance for a win in Madison in quite some time, but matching up with Happ is going to be difficult. De’Ron Davis has had a tendency to pick up early fouls against good frontcourt competition and if Indiana is going to send help at Happ in the post, it better have sound awareness and crisp rotations as Pritzl, Davison and Ford are all capable of knocking down 3s. Iverson isn’t much of a perimeter threat, but Happ can find him as a cutter for easy dunks at the rim.

Much like Indiana, Wisconsin has been vulnerable trying to guard the 3-point line, but the Hoosiers rank just 312th nationally in 3-point shooting percentage.

Indiana shouldn’t be as uncomfortable playing at Wisconsin’s deliberate pace as it was during the Crean era, but the Hoosiers must take care of the ball, steal some second chance points and also shoot a respectable percentage from the perimeter in order to win at the Kohl Center for the first time in almost 20 years.

Filed to:

  • Kwang

    Let’s just beat their asses for a change.

  • Mark Bando


  • Bill Graham

    What to expect:

    Awful referees that will most likely cost us the game

    (Copy and paste title and description for the Michigan state preview also)

  • Lance76

    I like that idea a lot. Who gets Happ?

  • Zach

    I already feel a small victory for not having to suffer through Nigel Hayes getting 30 undeserved free throws this year.

  • David Macer


  • ImYourHuckleberry

    First of all Happy New Year!

    2-16 against Wisconsin in the Crean era…that’s sickening

    I’ll be interested to see how an Archie coached team reacts to the snail speed of Wisky ball. In years past it’s been two teams trying to impose their respective tempos onto each other. We don’t play especially fast under Archie so I’m intrigued. First to 50 wins…

    Side note: Bo Ryan was a hell of a coach and as much as I despised him I respected him the same. He was Wisconsin’s RMK. Greg Gard is going to find out how good of a coach he is the next couple years. He’s been playing with Bos kids much like Davis did with Knights for a few seasons. I think tomorrow night is the first of many Ws against Wisconsin under Archie.


  • RonG

    Sad but true. If Ted Valintine or Pat Driscoll ref the game I’ll watch Seinfeld reruns! HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR all!

  • Sandra Wilson

    I agree with you 100% on Ryan, except for the despising part. Isn’t it amazing that Wis. can lose several to graduation, have injuries, and are still favored? I would guess in the last 7 years our recruiting classes were ranked above theirs almost every year. Do you suppose the reason we do so poorly against them is that their administration actually knows how to run an athletic department and hire coaches? Maybe we can finally start to turn the corner now, but I doubt it will start tonight.

  • Sandra Wilson

    If we don’t double up on Happ from the beginning of the game to the end, you’re likely to see him on the line a lot, in addition to his many baskets. Davis and Morgan cannot afford reach-in stupid fouls either. I also would like to see us drive and pull up for more mid range 2’s. Lastly, the most important dream — shot fakes – shot fakes – shot fakes.

  • HoosierOne


  • HoosierOne

    The magnitude of this game cannot be understated. If they can win this one it will set the mindset for conference play. It seems like every game from here on out will come down to whether or not we can hit and stop the 3 ball.

  • HoosierOne

    It’s so tough to watch when that happens too. All it takes is 2 quick ones to change dynamics of a game.

  • vicbert caladipo

    If I know kenpom correctly, I’m guessing the next 11-12 games we will be underdogs. Do we concentrate on stopping Happ and maybe face a barrage of 3’s. Or stop the 3’s and let Happ go nuts? Not sure we can stop both. If we can, we will win. The only sure thing that is good news is we won’t have to worry about that big-mouth fool Hayes and his 30 trips to the FT line.

  • vicbert caladipo

    UW is favored cuz we aren’t that good. We’ll probably be favored in very few games the rest of the way.

  • SCHoosier

    Given the history..and IU’s inconsistent performance this season…I’d have to put my money with WIS tonight (my heart of course will be somewhere else)

  • Hoosierkamp

    I think its one of the few guys Deron can guard since he has no preimeter threat and hes stronger. I say Davis to start

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    Energy has been a much discussed issue, and experience playing at Wisconsin is always a plus. Therefore, I would like to see the following lineup: Morgan, Newkirk, Johnson, Hartman, and McRoberts, with Green and Davis first off the bench. I have heard some comparisons of late that Coach Miller is starting to sound like Coach Knight, and one of the best Knight motivators ever is sitting your butt on the bench. If you want the team to play hard and at a hard level, play the ones who do it and the others will catch on. Plus the senior experience will be critical at Wisky. Hartman and Morgan on Happ, great energy, and jump to an early lead. Plus, I would like to see Hartman start because perhaps that will help his 3 point shooting rhythm, going straight from warm ups to playing. Go HOOSIERS!!!!!

  • vicbert caladipo

    I actually kind of like this idea. Collin needs a jumpstart

  • Bill Graham

    Negative id rather juwan stay in the game. It’s already going to start out 8 vs 5. We should rotate Davis and mcswain and use juwan sparingly on him. If this were at home I’d say juwan all the way… but this is going to be a very unfair game and we may need juwan down the stretch.

  • Bill Graham

    It still wouldn’t surprise me to see him shooting two as bad as the refs are….

    Announcer: “and it looks like Wisconsin will sub in micheal Jordan and Nigel Hayes.”

    Other announcer: “wait those guys don’t play for Wisconsin Dave!”

    Announcer: “you’re right but the refs are allow…oh and there’s another quick foul on deron Davis”

    Other announcer: “Davis is on the bench how is that even possible!?!?!”

    “And Nigel Hayes will go the line to shoot two”

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    amen to that! i’m so glad wiscy is lousy. regarding your underdog suspicion, you’re right. we’re only favored in two of the remaining games, though a lot of em are close to a coin toss.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i expect happ to have a big night and likely get one of our guys in foul trouble (who will CM have guarding him, btw?), i expect our shooting woes to continue. and to complete my pathetic debbie downer post, i expect the team that sucks slightly less will win. happy new year, fellow ITHers!!

  • marcusgresham

    De’Ron Davis in the Kohl Center? I put the over/under at 3:00 for the refs to nail him with his 2nd foul.

  • marcusgresham

    It’s Wisconsin. Even though he graduated I still expect that Nipsey Russell-looking Nigel Hayes to shoot at least 8 free throws.

  • marcusgresham

    Maybe start McSwain, and since it’s in hockey country encourage him to go full goon.

  • Speed

    With a New Year comes hope and I am hoping that IU pulls an upset but I am not calling Vegas to wager on a win. Zebras have a history of being brutal to IU in the land of cheese. Combine that with this team’s history of poor 3 point shooting and poor defense against the 3 and IU will need a lot of hope to win this one.

  • ImYourHuckleberry

    Maybe despise is a little strong. Bo just had an agenda and he stuck to it. He went after kids that would fit his system regardless of their national ranking. Honestly I can only hope Archie follows the same plan. Rankings aside. Kids that fit his system. The rest will follow.

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    I say start Hartman, have Morgan and Hartman double down every time Happ touches the ball. IU has been successful the few times they have used that strategy this year. Let Hartman start and see if that helps his 3 point shooting, going straight from warm ups to playing.

  • Colt

    IU really needs to shoot the ball well tonight. Granted this isn’t a great Badger team, but they are still tough at home in the B1G. A win would be sweet.

  • Oldguyy

    I just hope that somehow we get referees up there who aren’t on the take.

  • Kyl470

    Can’t use Morgan unless you want him to have 2 fouls before the first TV timeout. Remember Hayes shot like 30 free throws the last time we played there. Heck even though he graduated they will probably still find a way to say we fouled Hayes and get him some shots.

  • BeatDuke

    Trudging off to the game tonight. Not expecting much. I’m the guy that moved to Madison in August 1998 and still have not seen a win. I think I promised to stay home this year (because, yes, my presence has a negative influence), but a co-worker with great seats offered a few days ago.

    Anyway, I was at the UV v. Ohio State game (worse loss in Kohl Center history, – I loved it). UW is mostly slow footed (except for a couple guys). IU just needs to drive the ball in. If they do that, its over – even if they get blocked a few times. UW can’t stay with our guards. I hope CM sees this on film. If we don’t take a single 3, we will be fine – probably even better. If we are hoisting 3’s, this is an opportunity lost.

    I am not going to get mad when Happ puts on the chicken wing and moves past our guys for a layup, plus a foul our OUR guy. This is just part of the Kohl center. Can’t get mad, just have to keep playing – and drive the ball inside (looking at you JN and RJ, this team can’t stay with you, so leave your lousy 3 point shot in Bloomington).

    And yes, I realize IU is going to lose one way or another. I’m over it (well, not really, I’m already a little depressed). I’m going to try not to throttle all the fans that tell me “better luck next year” with their smug grins as they see all my IU gear. Sigh. I think I have beaten fan syndrome.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Now this is an opportunity to show what IU is made of. Huge game with the ability to be in the upper half of the Big Ten. If the same things (ie 3 to 1 ratio) of fouls occur then winning is dashed greatly. I like our chances but if we come out slow on defense and get behind quickly then everyone who had attacked the will to play hard on certain players will be obviously true. Seriously, this is a big opportunity to win this game and move up in the Big Ten. I hope IU takes advantage of it.

  • Kwang

    I am not feeling especially optimistic, either. This is a great opportunity for IU to move up in the B1G, we need 12 more wins to get to a twenty win season (plus BTT).

  • TomEke

    Per 40 minutes:
    Player 1: 22.9 Pts 11.4 Reb 4.9 Ast 1.5 Stl 1.0 Blk 3.6 TO 57% FG 6.0 FT
    Player 2: 20.8 Pts 9.1 Reb 2.3 Ast 1.9 Stl 3.1 Blk 1.9 TO 63% FG 9.5 FT

    Realistically, I (and many others) expect Player 2 (Deron Davis) to struggle with foul trouble all night against Player 1 (Happ), but I’ve been wrong on a number of predictions this year, and hope this is one of them. I’m not sure IU has the 3PT shooters to win this game behind the line, but maybe they have both guards who can take their guards off the dribble and post players who can win individual matchups down low to win this game that way.

  • IUBizmark

    Not a bad idea about Hartman starting, but I’d bet we’ll see McRoberts start before Hartman.

  • IUBizmark

    I like this matchup for us. The numbers seem good for us, plus, Wisconsin has a defensive policy of not fouling. Good thing they don’t know we can’t shoot free throws very well!
    If we can just make a few 3’s and keep them from shooting better than their season average from distance, I like the matchups.

  • SCHoosier

    Give how well Happ posts up and pump fakes..it could be two.

  • Dialogos68

    Talk about a Y in the road…. This game will be quite telling!

  • Dsct1

    This is a huge game, for me! I lived in Wisconsin for many years, for an IU team to win in Wisconsin is nearly impossible. It will most likely be a 7-5 game. If you get what I’m saying.

  • iubase

    This will be a hard fought game. Archie preaches the basic tenets Wisconsin excels at. Morgan will get pushed around but will get his. I wish De’Ron would be more assertive inside and dunk a few. Also wish we would have some sets for Colin since he has the best stroke. If we hit 40% of threes we have a chance. Would be a great win for Archie and the program

  • Jethro Jones

    this is ZM breakout game. I bet he drops 25. Shooting 6-9 from 3

  • Ole Man

    Evenly matched teams. In AH, IU wins. Playing the usual five on eight treatment the refs give in the Kohl Nightmare, IU loses.

  • Ole Man

    And only one of those fouls will be legit!

  • Ole Man

    CM = Clifton Moore = ???

  • Ole Man

    Morgan on Happ would be a disaster. He’d have two fouls in the first 3 or 4 minutes and we’d lose our best scorer for the rest of the first half.
    Sorry, but no way do you not start DD on Happ and hope he doesn’t foul out in the first 2 minutes! (only slightly joking with those refs.)

  • Jethro Jones

    Score Prediciton: IU Wins 55-49. ZM has 25 of those.

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    Agreed, 1 on 1, but if we use the strategy we did against Duke and double Happ whenever he touches the ball, we could potentially get away with it, in my humble view. Morgan could not guard Bagley either, one on one, but he managed to stay in the game. Always enjoy your comments, Ole Man!

  • Ole Man

    Thank you!
    Watch and see what happens when IU doubles. One of IU’s players will be called for a foul EVERY time, even if there isn’t one. Heck, they’d call a foul on both IU players if the rules allowed it!
    So, if it were in AH, I’d love the idea, but Happ will get so much home cooking you’ll think the ref stayed at his house last night and ate his Momma’s cookin’.