What to Expect: Indiana at Wisconsin

  • 01/19/2024 7:45 am in

Indiana begins a two-game road trip Friday night with Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in Madison. The Badgers are 13-4 overall and 5-1 in Big Ten play.

Friday’s game will tip at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1:

Indiana’s struggles at the Kohl Center are well-documented. The Hoosiers have won once in the building – in 1998 – and have lost 19 straight to the Badgers in Madison.

In Mike Woodson’s first season as IU’s coach, the Hoosiers led by 22 points in the first half before collapsing in a 64-59 loss. Given how well Wisconsin plays in the building, Indiana’s struggles and the sizable gap between the performance of the two programs this season, the Hoosiers are staring down a 20th straight loss at the Kohl Center.


After reaching the Final Four of the NIT last season, Greg Gard returned the nucleus of last season’s Wisconsin team. But Gard knew his team needed more offensive punch on the wing and smartly targeted St. John’s transfer AJ Storr.

The 6-foot-7 native of Rockford, Illinois, has proven to be the piece the Badgers needed. Storr is Wisconsin’s highest-usage offensive option and leads the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game. Storr is making 50 percent of his 2s, 32.3 percent of his 3s and is connecting on 84.7 percent of his free throw attempts.

The starting Badger backcourt consists of junior guards Max Klesmit and Chucky Hepburn, who are experienced returnees.

The 6-foot-2 Hepburn is 12th in the league in assist rate, fifth in steal percentage and averages eight points in a team-high 31.5 minutes per game.

Klesmit, a fourth-year junior, played two seasons at Wofford before transferring to Wisconsin before last season. He knows his role – take and make 3-pointers – and fills that role nicely. Klesmit is making 39.1 percent of his 3s this season and is connecting at a 47.8 percent clip in league play. He’s also an excellent free throw shooter (90.3 percent).

The starting frontcourt is the same as last season, with Tyler Wahl at the four and Steven Crowl at the five.

The 7-foot Crowl, also a fourth-year junior, is second on the team in scoring at 12 points per game and leads the Badgers in rebounding with 7.8 per game. Crowl ranks in the top five of the league in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.

Wahl, a fifth-year senior, has stopped shooting 3s this season and his efficiency is way up. The 6-foot-9 forward averages 11.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and shoots an efficient 54.3 percent from the field.

The Badgers don’t go deep into their bench, as only one sub played double-figure minutes in Tuesday’s loss to Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The main name to know off the bench is true freshman John Blackwell, a 6-foot-4 guard from Brother Rice in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Ranked just 212th nationally in the final 247Composite rankings, Blackwell had a lot of mid to low-major interest, but Wisconsin saw a shooter and slasher who could make an impact. Blackwell is 15-for-31 on 3s and has attempted 60 free throws despite just playing 18.6 minutes per game. Blackwell is shooting 83.3 percent from the line.

Sophomore Connor Essegian had some big games as a freshman but is only averaging 7.5 minutes this season. Essegian is just 12-for-37 on 3s and averages only 3.2 points.


All stats are via KenPom.com and are updated through Wednesday’s games.

As the No. 11 team in KenPom through Wednesday’s game, Wisconsin is an elite offensive team and a very good defensive team. Like most Wisconsin teams, this group of Badgers is deliberate offensively, with an average possession length of 19.4 seconds (347th nationally).

The Badgers rank sixth nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency on the strength of solid 3-point shooting (35.1 percent), 2-point shooting (53.3 percent) and free throw shooting (77 percent). The Badgers don’t turn it over, grab 31.8 percent of their missed shots and also rank inside the top 100 nationally in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) at 36.8 percent.

Wisconsin is fifth in the country in defensive rebounding percentage and does a solid job of defending without fouling. The Badgers have outscored their opponents by 79 points from the line in 17 games.


The KenPom projection is Wisconsin by 13 with an 11 percent chance of an IU victory.

This is the first of back-to-back road games for Indiana in two of the most unforgiving environments in the league. The Badgers are 9-1 at home this season, with their lone loss coming back on Nov. 10 to Tennessee, 80-70.

The Hoosiers, meanwhile, are coming off a disastrous performance on Tuesday against rival Purdue and have dropped their last two road games in league play by a combined 25 points. While Indiana’s losing streak at Madison has to end eventually, this is unlikely to be the year that Indiana takes care of business at the Kohl Center.

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