Indiana vs. Wisconsin, game 2: a glimmer, a shred, something?

Wisconsin Badgers
Current record: 20-7 (10-5)
Current RPI: 17
Current Sagarin: 12
Current Pomeroy: 11
2008-09 record: 19-11 (10-8), lost to Xavier in second round of NCAA Tournament
2008-09 RPI: 45
2008-09 Sagarin: 29
2008-09 Pomeroy: 29
Series: IU leads 94-59
Last IU win: 1/31/2007 (71-66 in Bloomington)
Last Wisconsin win: 2/13/2010 (83-55 in Madison)
Pomeroy scouting report
TV: 9 pm Thursday, BTN

Blog: Bucky's Fifth Quarter

IU's stay at rock bottom doesn't seem likely to end tonight, but again, progress would be nice.  IU now has lost eight in a row, and IU's last five loses have been by 14 or more points.  Few games in the last two years have been as ugly as IU's 83-55 loss to Wisconsin in Madison a couple of weeks ago.  While IU's offense has been nothing special, the defense has been especially bad.  On a points per possession basis, four of IU's five worst defensive games of the season have come in the last five games (only the Kentucky game was worse).  In the meeting in Madison against the Badgers, IU turned the ball over 32 percent of the time against a team that doesn't force turnovers all that effectively, and the Hoosiers were done within 10 minutes of tipoff.  In Madison, Jason Bohannon made 7-11 from three point range and scored a career-high 30 points.  Better perimeter defense and better ballhandling are essential.

There is no objective reason why IU should compete tonight.  Pomeroy gives Wisconsin a 90 percent chance of victory and projects a 68-57 win.  The only glimmer of hope is that Wisconsin hasn't been a great road team this season.  The Badgers have only three true road wins, and the best was at #70 Northwestern (the others were against Penn State and Michigan).  Certainly, those wins suggest that a win at IU is in the cards, and with the exception of an early-season loss at Wisconsin-Green Bay, the Badgers' losses all have come at the hands of quality opponents: #48 Gonzaga, #23 Michigan State, #8 Ohio State, #5 Purdue, #47 Illinois, and #27 Minnesota (all rankings by Pomeroy).  A loss to IU would be out of character for the Badgers.

Among the most frustrating games of the last two seasons have been last year's Michigan game, and this year's Illinois games, Minnesota game (even though IU won), and Purdue game.  There's nothing more frustrating than building a huge lead and watching it dwindle away at just the right moment for the opposition.  Still, after the last five games, I would kill for a loss like that tonight.  Screw it.  I'm in full blown moral victory mode.  Make Wisconsin look silly for a half.  Who cares what happens next?

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