Mary Langenfeld/USA Today Sports

Indiana hopes to keep its winning streak alive at Wisconsin

Indiana visits Wisconsin on Tuesday night, a team the Hoosiers have already beaten this season. But winning in Madison is never easy, especially for Indiana.

Tuesday's game will be televised on ESPN at 7 p.m.

Indiana has rolled to a 7-0 start in the Big Ten, and at times made it look pretty easy. The Hoosiers won two games by a combined 66 points last week, and they've had a lead of at least 30 points in their last three home games.

Going to 8-0, though, certainly won't be easy.

The No. 17 Hoosiers (17-3, 7-0) carry a 12-game winning streak into Madison to play Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, a place Indiana has won only once ever. That win came in 1998, and the Hoosiers have lost 13 straight at the Kohl Center since then.

Not all of those losses came against Wisconsin teams with superior talent, but all of them did feature Bo Ryan, who is no longer roaming the sideline. Plus, home wins have been hard to come by for the Badgers. Even in relatively bad years, Wisconsin was invincible at home, but that hasn't been the case to this point. The Badgers have lost five games at the Kohl Center already this season, including three non-conference games.

The Badgers (11-9, 3-4) seem to be playing better of late after a three-game losing streak that included a 59-58 loss at Assembly Hall. Wisconsin is coming off wins over Michigan State and at Penn State, and the Badgers will certainly be hungry for a win as they try to make a push for the postseason.

Wisconsin felt like it should have won at Indiana earlier this season, and the Hoosiers thought they left a lot of points on the floor and could have played significantly better. Who's more right? We may find out on Tuesday.

"Last year in those close games, Frank and Sam always found ways to close them out and just took us along with them," Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes said after the loss in Bloomington. "I've got to figure out a way to start doing that myself. You either develop a winning habit or you find ways to lose. This is an example of finding a way to lose.

"But we lost a 1-point game in their gym on a night when they're honoring their national championship team. They had this extra momentum. Some guys out there were doing things I've never seen them do before."

Stopping Wisconsin usually revolves around Hayes and Bronson Koenig and that remains the case. But the Badgers seem to have found a consistent third option in Ethan Happ, a 6-foot-9 freshman. Happ has two double-doubles in his last four games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound performance the last time out. Happ has attempted 28 free throws in his last two games after shooting only 62 in his first 18 games.

Happ is averaging 12 points and 8.3 rebounds per game for the year.

Happ's emergence have made things easier on Hayes and Koenig, who frankly looked worn down when Wisconsin came to Bloomington. Koenig's assist numbers haven't been great, but he's thrived in isolation situations, though he wasn't in many when the Badgers played Indiana the first time. There's a good chance that will be different this time around.

"I just wasn't aggressive enough," Koenig told me after the loss. "I thought that I came out hot, and then just like a lot of the other games, I didn't really do much. I didn't really look to be aggressive enough. I just need to look for myself a little more when we're in a drought. I need to take it upon myself as a team leader to make a play for myself or my teammates."


Peegs.com Top Stories