Date/Time – Tuesday, January 5, 6 p.m. central
Arena – Assembly Hall (17,472)
Television – ESPN (Mike Tirico, Dan Dakich and Allison Williams)
Radio – Badgers Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)
Series – Indiana leads 94-69 (Indiana leads 52-27 in Bloomington)
Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 92-78, on February 3, 2015, in Madison
WISCONSIN PROBABLE STARTERS
3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Junior Guard, 8.6 ppg)
10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Junior Forward, 15.7 ppg)
22 Ethan Happ (6-9 Freshman Forward, 11.2 ppg)
24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Junior Guard, 13.9 ppg)
30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Junior Forward, 9.8 ppg)
OFF THE BENCH
11 Jordan Hill (6-3 Sophomore Guard, 2.0 ppg)
15 Charlie Thomas (6-8 Freshman Forward, 3.7 ppg)
21 Khalil Iverson (6-5 Freshman Forward, 3.2 ppg)
24 Alex Illikainen (6-9 Freshman Forward, 2.5 ppg)
PLAYER TO WATCH
Raising his points per game average nearly Coming off a career-high 21 points against Rutgers, Showalter is averaging 8.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg and is 3rd on the team with 36 assists in 33.3 mpg. Against the Scarlet Knights, Showalter was a perfect 8-for-8 from the floor, including 4-for-4 from 3-point range and 1-for-1 at the FT line.
INDIANA PROBABLE STARTERS
4 Robert Johnson (6-3 Sophomore Guard, 7.9 ppg)
5 Troy Williams (6-7 Junior Forward, 13.3 ppg)
11 Yogi Ferrell (6-0 Senior Guard, 16.9 ppg)
30 Collin Hartman (6-7 Junior Forward, 4.4 ppg)
31 Thomas Bryant (6-10 Freshman Center, 12.0 ppg)
OFF THE BENCH
0 Max Bielfeldt (6-8 Senior Forward, 8.3 ppg)
2 Nick Ziesloft (6-4 Senior Guard, 6.4 ppg)
3 OG Anunoby (6-8 Freshman Forward, 3.1 ppg)
3 Max Hoetzel (6-8 Freshman Forward, 3.2 ppg)
PLAYER TO WATCH
Ferrell enters his final conference season as the active leader in scoring (1,632), assists (529), 3-point field goals made (220) and is the only senior in the league to have started every game he has played (117).
LAST TIME OUT
MADISON – A role player throughout his first three seasons at Wisconsin, Zak Showalter has admitted that moving to a full-time starting role has taken a period of adjustment. With conference play in its infancy and UW still looking for consistent scorers, Showalter showed that he’s more than just an energizer.
Showalter’s scoring and hustle ignited runs in the first and second half for Wisconsin, which needed the lift from the junior guard to get past Rutgers, 79-57, Saturday afternoon at the Kohl Center in a game that was tighter than the final score indicated.
Finishing its seven game homestand 4-3 and on a high note against one of the two Big Ten teams that defeated them a year ago, Wisconsin (9-6, 1-1 Big Ten) got a career-high 21 points from Showalter to lead three players in double figures.
The 6-2 junior entered the day shooting 42.9 percent and averaging 7.7 points, but was a perfect 8-for-8 from the field, including 4-for-4 from 3-point range and made his only free throw, but opened up many avenues to score points that ended up being critical.
In the first half alone, he skied for an athletic block that took a layup away from D.J. Foreman, rebounded a Bronson Koenig miss for an easy putback and stole a pass from freshman Corey Sanders at the top of the key that led to an easy layup.
“That has to remain our DNA,” said head coach Greg Gard. “We need to play hard. That’s part of playing hard.”
With Bronson Koenig chipping in 14 points and four assists, including a perfectly executed alley-oop pass to Khalil Iverson for a slam, and getting bench production from Jordan Hill and Jordan Smith, UW’s backcourt scored a season-high 43 points.
Rutgers (6-9, 0-2), which has now lost 17 consecutive Big Ten games, opened the second half on an 8-1 run, cutting a double-digit lead down to 43-39 with 15:51 remaining by taking advantage of UW’s sluggish offense (0-for-7 from the field) and lapses defensively.
Showalter broke that funk when he drove to the basket off the dribble, converted at the rim and drew a foul to ignite a spark. Over the next six minutes, Wisconsin went on an 18-4 run that was comprised of consistent post touches that led to success in the interior and kick outs to wide-open shooters.
MADISON – Frank Kaminsky scored a game-high 23 points – one of four UW players in double figures - and the Badgers were in control virtually throughout their 92-78 victory over Indiana – the 13th consecutive home victory over the Hoosiers.
Chalk up another Wisconsin opponent who leaves a Badgers game flummoxed as to how to upend the conference’s unanimous favorite. Three days after Iowa shot 64 percent in the first half and was down six at halftime, Indiana (16-7, 6-4) shot 56.0 percent in the first half, including going 8-for-11 from 3-point range, but was staring up at the scoreboard down eight at intermission after the Badgers shot 68 percent.
Indiana entered the night as the highest scoring offense in the Big Ten (80.3), a product of a nonconference schedule that ranked 147th in the country and having quick guards who can hit 3-point jumpers. That equation became problematic against a Wisconsin starting lineup that had a height advantage across the board, a combined 14 inches in all.
The Badgers – the top scoring offense in conference games at 73.6 points per game – pummeled the league’s worst defense inside by scoring 24 of its 44 first-half points in the paint and had its big two – Nigel Hayes (16) and Kaminsky – go a combined 10-for-10.
Thrown Sam Dekker (14) in the mix, Wisconsin’s frontcourt combined to go 19-for-24 (79.2 percent) for 53 points, which included 13-for-16 from the free throw line.
The Badgers went 28-for-31 from the free throw line (Indiana went just 9-for-11), had a 6-1 edge in blocks, forced 11 turnovers that led to 16 points and only committed one of their six turnovers in the second half.
Wisconsin has defeated Indiana in 14 of the last 15 meetings, including wins in five of the last six visits to Bloomington.
Since Bo Ryan came to Madison, the Badgers are 7-3 in Bloomington. Prior to Ryan’s arrival, UW had lost 22 straight games at Assembly Hall.
Prior to a 75-72 loss at IU in 2014, the Badgers had won 5 straight games at Assembly Hall. UW is the only team in history to beat Indiana five consecutive times in that building. In fact, no other visiting team has won more than 3 straight at Assembly Hall.
Bo Ryan-lead teams went 20-4 (.833) all-time vs. the Hoosiers. Prior to Ryan, Wisconsin was 49-90 (.353) all-time vs. Indiana. Wisconsin is 16-4 all-time record vs. Tom Crean, with seven of those decisions (and three of the four losses) coming while Crean was at Marquette.
UW has held IU to an average of 60.5 ppg during the 13 meetings with Crean as the IU coach.
Since 2001-02 when Bo Ryan and Greg Gard got to UW, the Badgers are 173-69 (.715) in Big Ten play, the top mark in the conference (MSU is second at 162-80 [.669]).
UW is 39-10 (.796) away from home since 2013-14, the most road/neutral wins among major conf. teams.
During the Bo Ryan era, the Badgers lead the Big Ten and rank 8th among major conference schools with 86 true road wins. In the Ryan era, Wisconsin owns the most true road wins (86) and best win pct. (.544) among Big Ten teams.
Five different players have led UW in scoring this season and 8 different players have scored at least 10 points in a game.
In Hoosier wins, IU is shooting 62.0 percent from the floor and 53.0 percent from 3--point range in the final 10 minutes of games compared to its opponents shooting 39.7 percent from the floor and 27.3 percent from long distance during crunch time.
Sophomore guard James Blackmon, Jr., (15.8 ppg) did not play last week. He suffered a knee injury in practice last Monday and is under continued evaluation.
Williams is averaging 13.7 points and 7.2 rebounds in his last 10 games and is shooting 59.3 from the field. His seven three-point field goals in 15 games eclipses his season-totals of six in each of the last two seasons.
Bryant is third among the league’s first-year players averaging 12.0 points. He leads the Big Ten in field goal shooting making 73.1 percent of his shot attempts.
Break out the litmus paper, as this is going to be a huge test for Wisconsin and its improving defense.
Over the last seven games, UW has tightened up its defense and limited teams to only 61.1 points per game on 39.1 percent shooting, but the Badgers had faced only one team that it currently in the top 50 scoring teams in the country. That team – Green Bay – scored 11 points more than any other team on that stretch.
Indiana leads the Big Ten in scoring (87.7), field goal percentage (53.4), 3-point FG percentage (45.1), steals (7.7) offensive rebound percentage (40.2), and turnovers forced (14.9).
IU has shot 50 percent or better in 22 of its last 49 games dating back to last season. In addition, Indiana has shot 40 percent or better from three-point range in 29 of contests.
What more? Indiana is 87st in the KenPom rankings for adjusted tempo, which means Indiana shoots it really, really well.
“They have a lot of guys who can do it,” said head coach Greg Gard. “They’ll really spread you out, drive and kick very well, do a lot of weaves and dribble handoffs to try to get you to where they can play downhill and force help. They’re very good and sharing the ball and with that many guys that can score, it can come in bunches.”
UW will also be tested when it comes to its 3-point defense, which has also improved over the last seven games (33.1 percent) but at 37.6 percent is 13th in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage defense.
Even with James Blackmon Jr. sidelined because of a knee injury, the Hoosiers boast six players who are shooting 35 percent or better from three-point range. They average 10.2 three-pointers per game and are set up a lot by Ferrell (team-best 91 assists).
“He’s probably one of the best point guards in the country,” Gard said of Ferrell. “He’s got a lot of talent around him that knows how the engine needs to be driven.”
Depth is critical in Big Ten play, especially on the road, a reason why Gard has started increase the depth of UW’s rotation. In 12 games under Bo Ryan, UW’s starters were playing 80.8 percent of the minutes. In the three games since, that number has dropped to 67.7 percent. As a result, the Badgers are getting more production from their reserves. Over the final six games prior to Gard taking over, UW’s bench was averaging just 5.3 points per game, including 0 points vs. Marquette and 1 point at Syracuse
That scoring balance will be vital tonight. In Saturday’s win at Nebraska, the Hoosiers held Nebraska’s top two offensive threats, Shavon Shields and Andrew White III to just 34.7 percent shooting between the two (8 for 23) after they entered the game shooting 49.4 percent from the field. With teams keying consistently on Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, UW needs other players to score to spread out the defense.
That would be beneficial, considering Bryant is a big athletic problem in the low post.
“Around the rim, he’s an eraser for them,” said Gard. “If he can catch it tight to the basket, he’s pretty strong and explosive. He adds a dimension that they haven’t always had. They’ve had to play small at times but now they can play a little bigger across the front with him.”
Wisconsin has owned Indiana since Ryan and Gard came into the league, but this Hoosiers team has a lot of pieces that can overwhelm a young squad. I think UW can keep it very close and competitive throughout, but I’m afraid Crean’s roster of experience and playmakers is the trump card, especially at home. Indiana by 11.
Worgull's Record: 10-5
Points off Prediction: 168 (11.2 per game)