No.13 Wisconsin looks for its sixth win in his last eight trips to Assembly Hall when it faces No.25 Indiana tonight

Winners of eight straight, No.13 Wisconsin looks to tack on another loss to No.25 Indiana's two-game losing streak when the teams square off tonight at Assembly Hall. BadgerNation has the breakdown.

No.13 Wisconsin (12-2, 1-0 Big Ten) vs. No.25 Indiana (10-4, 0-1 Big Ten)

Date/Time – Tuesday, January 3, 6 p.m. central

Arena – Assembly Hall (17,222)

Television – ESPN (Dave Flemming, Jay Bilas and Allison Williams)

Radio –Badgers Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Indiana leads 95-70 (Indiana leads 53-27 in Bloomington)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 82-79, in overtime on January 26, 2016, in Madison

WISCONSIN PROBABLE STARTERS

3 Zak Showalter (6-3 Senior Guard, 8.1 ppg)

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Senior Forward, 14.0 ppg)

22 Ethan Happ (6-10 Sophomore Forward, 12.7 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-2 Senior Guard, 14.1 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Senior Forward, 7.8 ppg)

OFF THE BENCH

0 D'Mitrik Trice (6-0 Freshman Guard, 6.7 ppg)

15 Charles Thomas (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 3.5 ppg)

21 Khalil Iverson (6-5 Sophomore Forward, 5.1 ppg)

PLAYER TO WATCH

Tied with Happ for second in the Big Ten, averaging 1.6 steals per game, Showalter scored a season-high 18 points on Dec. 27 vs. Rutgers, the second-highest total of his career.

INDIANA PROBABLE STARTERS

1 James Blackmon (6-4 Junior Guard, 17.3 ppg)

Josh Newkirk  (6-2 Junior Guard, 7.9 ppg)

3 OG Anunoby (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 12.2 ppg)

4 Robert Johnson (6-3 Junior Guard, 13.8 ppg)

31 Thomas Bryant (6-10 Sophomore Center, 12.1 ppg)

OFF THE BENCH

0 Curtis Jones (6-4 Freshman Guard, 5.1 ppg)

13 Juwan Morgan (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 7.5 ppg)

20 De'Ron Davis (6-10 Freshman Forward, 6.2 ppg)

PLAYER TO WATCH

A preseason All-American and elite defender, Anunoby is averaging 11.8 points and 6.4 rebounds in the five games since missing three games with an ankle injury. He is shooting 57.7 percent from the field this season.

LAST TIME OUT

MADISON – Nearly a year after scoring a career high against the Scarlet Knights, Showalter came up big again for No.14 Wisconsin with 18 points in the Badgers’ 72-52 victory at the Kohl Center.

Forward Nigel Hayes scored a game-high 20 points (10-for-10 free throws) for Wisconsin (12-2, 1-0 Big Ten), which extended its winning streak to eight games and won its Big Ten opener for the 13th time in the last 14 years.

Showalter was the key factor in last year’s 79-57 victory, scoring 22 points on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting. That included 4-for-4 from 3-point range, three rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block.

He didn’t equal the point plateau, but Showalter was an efficient 6-for-10 while adding four steals and three assists.

“In these types of games he thrives,” head coach Greg Gard said of Showalter. “He likes the physicality, he likes the mix it up, stick your nose in, get knocked around, knock some people around. He’s always been a guy that’s really thrived in that type of game.”

After averaging 6.4 points in the first 10 games of the season, Showalter is averaging 12.5 points on 60.7 percent shooting (17 of 28) over the last four games.

On a night where things were choppy on offense and ball security was sloppy, Showalter appeared to be the one constant on both ends of the floor.

Wisconsin missed five 3-pointers, five free throws and committing five turnovers in the first half, but the Badgers jumped all over Rutgers (11-3, 0-1) with defense. Wisconsin forced eight of its 10 steals in the opening 20 minutes, including four in the first four minutes, 20 seconds to jump out to an 8-2 lead.

Showalter had two of the steals, leading a pair of fast breaks that he finished off with a bounce pass to Ethan Happ (10 points) for a dunk and another he cashed in himself.

“It shows how good we are as a whole,” Hayes said. “You can’t face guard or guard everyone.”

Rutgers started 2 of 17 from the field with seven turnovers in first 19 possessions. Although getting 17 offensive rebounds, Rutgers managed only 18 second-chance points and shot 30.6 percent. Rutgers also committed 15 turnovers that led to 18 Wisconsin points.

SERIES NOTES

The Badgers have won 15 of the last 17 matchups and are 21-5 (.808) against the Hoosiers since 2002. Prior to that, UW was 49-90 (.353) all-time vs. Indiana.

Wisconsin has come away with a win in five of its last seven trips to Assembly Hall but have lost the last two. UW is the only team in history to beat Indiana five consecutive times in that building (no visiting team has won more than three straight).

Since 2002 (when Bo Ryan took over), UW has gone 7-4 at Assembly Hall. Prior to a win there in 2002, the Badgers' had lost 22 consecutive times at Indiana dating back to 1977.

Since Tom Crean got to Indiana, Wisconsin owns a 13-2 all-time record vs. the Hoosiers.

This is the second-straight season UW will travel to Bloomington, Indiana, for its first Big Ten road game. The Hoosiers will make a return trip to Madison later this season on Feb. 5, where they have lost 14 straight dating back to 1998.

LAST MEETING

MADISON – Nigel Hayes went 17-for-22 from the free throw line to give him 31 points in Wisconsin’s 82-79 overtime victory over No.19 Indiana in front of a raucous sold-out Kohl Center.

Freshman Ethan Happ contributed a career-high 25 points to go along with eight rebounds, four steals and two blocks, while sophomore Jordan Hill also set a new career-high with 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting in 32 minutes off the bench.

The win gives Wisconsin (12-9, 4-4 Big Ten) its first three game winning streak of the season and starts to finally make them look like a N.C.A.A. tournament team in the process. Make no mistake they have a long way – and a lot of wins – to go before getting back on the bubble, but Hayes and Co. delivered in a game it had to have.

“What’s so neat about this team is they’ve come together,” said Gard, who commended his team for finding a way despite 16 turnovers resulting in 21 Indiana points. “The chemistry and the culture in the locker room has grown tighter and tighter over the last five weeks. I don’t know if we be in position to be able pull something like this out six-eight weeks ago.”

The belief in close games hasn’t always been there. Before Jan.17, Wisconsin was 2-7 in games decided by six points or less, including a three game conference skid that started with a 59-58 setback at Indiana Jan.5. That game Hayes shot 3-for-13 from the floor, 8-for-11 from the free throw line and couldn’t deliver the little plays late.

Those now seem to be a thing of the past, especially now that the Badgers are getting to the free throw line. After averaging 14 free throws through its first five Big Ten games, Wisconsin went 29-for-36 in the one-point win over No.4 Michigan State, 22-for-35 in the six-point road win at Penn State and 28-for-37 Tuesday.

The critical moments in the game are too numerous to mention, but always seemed to involve either Hayes, Happ, Hill or Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell down the stretch

In overtime alone, Hayes had two offensive rebounds on the first offensive possession that led to free throws from Happ. Hayes also scored six of UW’s 11 points and delivered on pesky defense throughout, including blanketing Farrell (team-high 30 points) at the end of regulation that led to a tough jump shot and the overtime session.

In the final minute of regulation and overtime, Hayes was a perfect 8-for-8.

Hill registered a block on OG Anunoby’s 3-pointer from the corner after Happ delivered a nasty baseline spin move to make 74-71 Wisconsin. He also hit 1-for-2 free throws with 12.2 seconds left to make it a two possession game after registering a key offensive rebounding following a Happ block.

Throughout the game Hill pestered Ferrell, who got his points, and made a critical play when he poked the ball away from the Indiana senior to engineer a Hayes’ 3-point play to make it 61-55 in the second half.

WISCONSIN NOTES

Wisconsin has also won 10 of its last 12 Big Ten road openers, with one of those two losses coming last season in a 59-58 setback at Indiana (1/5/16).

Wisconsin is 49-18 (.731) away from home over the last four seasons. This season, the Badgers are 3-2 from the Kohl Center, going 1-1 in true road games and 2-1 in neutral sites.

Sporting one of the most efficient offenses in the nation (15th according to KenPom.com), the Badgers are averaging 83.5 ppg and shooting 51.2 percent over the last eight outings.

Wisconsin has held 10 of its 14 opponents to season-low point totals. According to KenPom.com, the Badgers rank 13th in the NCAA in adjusted defensive efficiency.

The Badgers are second in the nation with a +13.8 rebounding margin. UW also ranks third in the N.C.A.A. in defensive rebounding pct. (78.7 percent) and 9th in offensive rebounding pct. (39.7 percent)

INDIANA NOTES

The Hoosiers have held the rebounding edge in every game this season outside of the UNC game (tied at 37 per team).

The Hoosiers totaled 19 offensive rebounds against Louisville – second only to the 22 the team grabbed against Nebraska on Dec. 28. IU also had 19 offensive boards in the win over UMass Lowell on Nov. 16.

IU had 21 second chance points Saturday – the third-most the season and the third time this year IU has scored 20 or more (Houston Baptist – 22, Austin Peay – 25).

Blackmon Jr. recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. With his 10 points, Blackmon Jr. now has 949 points in his Hoosier career, ranking him 53rd all-time.

PREDICTION

Considering it beat Kansas in Hawaii and North Carolina at Assembly Hall, it’s hard to call Indiana’s schedule soft. But consider this, even with those two top-20 RPI wins, Indiana still has a 120 RPI and a strength of schedule that ranks 225. Basically Indiana inflated its record by scheduling cupcakes, and it reared its ugly head over the last week.

With five of its last six opponents before conference play having RPIs over 162, Indiana didn’t look prepared for the intensity of the Big Ten. Even against last-place Nebraska, the Hoosiers were porous defensively (given up 87 points on 48.4 percent shooting), struggled handling the basketball (19 turnovers that led to 21 points) and gave up 40 points in the paint.

On Saturday against Louisville in Indianapolis, Hoosiers committed 14 turnovers, saw the Cardinals shoot 52.9 percent and score 30 points in the paint. See a trend? Needless to say, UW will need big games from Hayes and Happ, who have traditionally delivered against Crean’s Crimson.

Over his last three outings vs. Indiana, Hayes has scored 20.7 ppg and averaged 13.0 free throw attempts per game. He is a combined 30-for-39 at the FT line in those three contests. Happ is averaging 17.5 ppg (15-22 FGs), 8.0 rpg, 3.0 bpg and 3.0 spg in two games vs the Hoosiers.

Both players enter their Big Ten road opener playing the best basketball of the young season. Hayes is averaging 16.5 ppg, shooting 58.9 percent from the field and averaging 7.9 FTAs during the eight-game winning streak, while Happ has posted a double-double in six of the last 10 games and is second in  the conference in rebounds per game (9.6), second in field goal percentage (.667) and second in steals (1.6).

Even though Indiana averages 69.4 possession per 40 minutes (ranked 172 in the county by KenPom), the Hoosiers are 14th in adjusted offense, scoring 116 points per 100 possessions, but are susceptible to good defenses. Three of the Hoosiers’ four passes have come to teams ranked in the top 52 of adjusted defensive tempo. Louisville is first and held the Hoosiers to a season-low 62 points. Wisconsin is 17th and has held the Hoosiers to 61.7 points per game in the Crean era.

Wisconsin is playing well with its low-post presence and defense, two areas Indiana has struggled with. If Wisconsin can march or surpass Indiana on the glass, one of the Hoosiers’ strengths, I like the Badgers by eight tonight in a place that doesn’t intimidate them.

Worgull's Record: 12-2

Points off Prediction: 130 (9.3 per game)


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