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Indiana Hoosiers vs. Wisconsin Badgers: game preview, TV times, odds, stats and more

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Let's all calm down and beat Wisconsin.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info / How to Watch:

Who? #25 Indiana Hoosiers (10-4, #24 KenPom) vs. #11 Wisconsin Badgers (11-2, #11 KenPom)

When? Tuesday, January 3rd, 7:00 PM, ESPN

Where? Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana

Vegas? INDIANA -1

Pomeroy? Indiana by 1, 52% chance of Indiana victory

_____________________________________________________

Hey kids, let's rap for a second.

[pulls up chair and sits on it backwards]

It has been a rough week for Indiana sports, particularly for basketball. We're all dealing with it differently but, ultimately, we're all on the same team here. I'm not going to tell you how to feel about this team, but I am going to tell you how I feel:

The Hoosiers are a pretty good team and they're playing some really bad ball right now.

These can be true at the same time! If this were soccer, we'd call it a run of poor form. Great teams have slumps in every sport, what makes great teams great is getting through them quickly and coming out better on the other end. Villanova lost two of three back in December last season, including a 24-point drubbing by Oklahoma on a neutral floor. They'd go on to beat them by 44 in the Final Four.

Indiana won't beat anyone playing the way they played last week, but some good news on that front: it's highly unlikely they'll keep playing that way. We've seen what this team is capable of achieving (defeating Kansas about as far away from Assembly Hall as one can be, railroading North Carolina in Bloomington) and what they're capable of, uh, not achieving (lose to teams barely inside KenPom's top-100, get run out of Bankers Life by Louisville). Leaving us with only one conclusion: these Indiana Hoosiers can beat anyone they'll meet in the NCAA Tournament and, at the same time, possess the ability to be bounced by any team as well.

Which, if you see the nation's premier postseason event as the chaos-riddled acid trip that it is, you already knew that before the season started.

The Big Ten Title will not be decided in January, and the projected bottom of the conference (save Rutger) has already let it be known they won't go quietly into the night. But if Indiana wants to keep pace and hold onto some semblance of a margin for error, they have to beat a fellow contender when they come to Bloomington.

HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?


eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
INDIANA (#14 Adj. Offense) 57.7 (6th) 21.8 (308th) 42.2 (2nd) 40.2 (74th)
WISCONSIN (#17 Adj. Defense) 44.7 (32nd)
19.7 (134th)
21.3 (3rd) 24.4 (14th)

eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
INDIANA (#63 Adj. Defense) 44.5 (29th) 16.3 (310th) 26.7 (70th) 28.9 (58th)
WISCONSIN (#13 Adj. Offense) 55.5 (27th) 17.6 (93rd) 39.7 (8th) 32.7 (231st)

Wisconsin returned literally everyone from last year. If you contributed for the Badgers last season, you came back this season. Those kind of returns allow them to start a core of four seniors and a sophomore who is currently 7th on KenPom's Player of the Year tracker. These two teams played two highly entertaining games last season, with each home team holding serve in the series that was decided by a grand total of four points.

Nigel Hayes remains the team's floor leader, he leads the team in %minutes and is second in both %possessions / %shots. His 3PT shot has recovered from last season where he shot a paltry 29% and is now hitting 35.1% of his shots from distance while also dishing out assists at a 20.8% clip. He's one of four Badgers players dishing out more assists than turnovers (Indiana has zero such players). He's as tough of a cover as it gets in the Big Ten, and I'd expect OG Anunoby to get first dibs on trying to slow him down.

Ethan Happ is building on an excellent encore to a promising freshman season, his numbers are POY-caliber, as he's a top-20 rebounder on both ends of the court, assisting at a rate of 23.2%, great block / steal numbers and a top-30 eFG%. He ate Thomas Bryant alive up in Madison last season and will give Indiana's big man all he can handle tomorrow night. If he has a weakness, it's his free throw shooting (48.9%), but about that:

In extremely off-brand fashion, Wisconsin is turning in some pretty pedestrian numbers from behind the arc (35.4%, 148th) and the charity stripe (68.8%, 198th) but I think we can all agree that those numbers will both be far closer to 100% on Tuesday night because it's Wisconsin against Indiana. Someone is gonna bust out a slump and hit six threes- I'm thinking Jordan Hill. If you try and play Hack-a-Happ he's gonna hit every single one of his freebies. You know it, I know it, Tom Crean knows it. It's gonna be nonsense.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH FOR

  • War on the Glass: Indiana is 2nd in offensive rebounding while Wisconsin is 3rd in defensive rebounding, setting up for quite a spectacle to take place after any Indiana missed shot. The Hoosiers effort on the offensive glass was the only thing that kept the Louisville game reasonably close for any length of time, and a similar shooting effort on Tuesday will mean Indiana will have to be just as sharp to have any chance, but don't expect the Badgers to vacate the glass like the Cardinals did. Speaking of missed shots:
  • Holy God Hit Open Looks: Listen, we've got gripes about the gameplan / direction of the program all the usual suspects after any Indiana loss, but the reason that game went so badly begins and ends with the players missing open jumpers. You have to be otherworldly defensively if you're to emerge victorious after hitting less than 40% of your twos and 20% of your threes. The Louisville defense certainly had something to do with it, but many of these looks were open / high-percentage and the players couldn't convert. Gameplans look a LOT better when the open shots go in. Wisconsin is 32nd in DeFG%, so this is all far easier said than done. But hopefully the familiarity of Assembly Hall can help cure what ails Indiana's shooting.
  • Thomas Bryant can't leave points on the floor: Let's not get it twisted, Thomas Bryant is putting together another tremendous year. His 2PT% has regressed (down 16%) but his free throw rate has skyrocketed (up nearly 20% from last season). He remains a great rebounder and is blocking more shots and generating more steals than last season. Against Louisville, he had a few close-range shots rim out due to a combination of bad luck and being forced into awkward spots by a disciplined Louisville defense. If he can start finishing a bit better, he's going to be creating a ton of three-point plays and putting a lot of pressure on opponents. In order to do so, however, he needs to be stronger and more confident with the ball. He needs to trust himself to finish through contact and worry less about trying to finish around it.