Indiana men’s basketball is set to face Wisconsin at 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana.
We (metaphorically) sat down with our friends at Bucky’s 5th Quarter to preview the matchup.
What are Wisconsin’s biggest strengths and weaknesses?
So, Wisconsin, as is tradition, doesn’t turn the ball over much. They are currently No. 2 in the nation in turnover percentage and, despite having a freshman point guard, are on pace to have one of the lowest turnover percentages in program history. UW also doesn’t foul a lot and, on the other side of the ball, the Badgers usually make their free throws at a good clip. I say “usually” because they just went 9-for-17 from the charity stripe in their loss to Rutgers.
As far as weaknesses go, the Badgers aren’t a good three point shooting team and while they don’t take a ton of them…they could probably stand to take fewer based on how many are falling, which to be clear, isn’t enough. Wisconsin doesn’t crash the offensive glass particularly hard and if Johnny Davis isn’t cooking the offense can be stagnant in general.
Which players (not named Johnny Davis) should Indiana fans worry about?
Obviously, Davis is a player to be worried about. He scored 23 points against the Hoosiers the first time these two teams met while adding nine rebounds and a block, but it’s no fun to talk about the best player on the team. Let’s go deeper into the lineup instead! While Davis is the best player, junior forward Tyler Wahl is probably the most important.
Wahl can guard just about every position on the floor (although you wouldn’t want him guarding someone like Kofi Cockburn or Hunter Dickinson for very long) and has a crafty, efficient post game on offense that leaves you scratching your head with how he scores sometimes. Wahl is an active defender and rebounder and will probably be in charge of keeping Race Thompson under lock and key. Wahl is a poor three point shooter (and any time he takes one that is a win for Indiana, even if it goes in because then he might shoot more which, uh, won’t go in) but has improved massively at the free throw line.
Wahl scored a career-high 23 points in Wisconsin’s last game and will definitely be looking to stay hot against IU.
We all know what happened last time, but how has Wisconsin been on the road this year?
The Badgers have actually been really good away from home this year. They have a 9-2 record away from the Kohl Center and are 6-2 in true road games. Those marks are both the best in the conference and only Auburn and Southern Cal (with 10 each) have more wins away from home among major conference teams.
Wisconsin has won at Purdue and at Michigan State this year which is something that they hadn’t done since the 1960s (I’m not looking it up, but just know that this doesn’t happen often in the same season for UW). Not that any of the CQ readers need a reminder, but Wisconsin has won 7 of the last 10 games at Assembly Hall and pulled off a comeback 60-56 win in the final game of the regular season to clinch a share of the 2020 Big Ten Championship their last time at The Hall.
Who will win and why?
Indiana has looked rough over the past week plus, but returning home for this game should give the team a boost. The Badgers have lost two of their last four, including a real clunker against Rutgers at the Kohl Center where Wisconsin shot incredibly poorly and didn’t play good enough defense. I think this game is going to be an ugly, stereotypical Big Ten February game that no one is happy about having to watch and I think that the Hoosiers get some revenge on the Badgers thanks to a late blocked shot by Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Game Thread: [Indiana vs. Wisconsin: Men’s basketball game thread]