Hoosiers and Badgers mix it up in Big Ten showdown

Madison, WI ( - The fifth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers hope to distance themselves even further from one of the teams chasing them in the race for the Big Ten Conference crown, as they entertain the Indiana Hoosiers at the Kohl Center on Tuesday evening.

Indiana comes in sporting a 16-6 record, which includes a 6-3 league ledger. The Hoosiers, who are in a five-way ties for second place in the conference standings, recently put an end to a two-game losing streak with a 72-62 win over visiting Rutgers on Saturday.

At 19-2 overall and 7-1 in conference, Wisconsin sits atop the Big Ten standings. The Badgers have won four in a row since suffering their lone league loss at Rutgers on Jan. 11, with the latest being a 74-63 verdict at Iowa on Saturday. UW is 10-1 at home this season, with its only loss in Madison coming in an 80-70 final versus Duke back on Dec. 3.

Indiana leads the all-time series with Wisconsin, 94-68. However, the Badgers have won their last 12 home matchups with the Hoosiers, and have come out on top in the 13 of the last 14 meetings overall.

James Blackmon, Jr. scored 20 points, and Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams tallied 14 apiece in leading Indiana to its recent win over Rutgers. Williams actually made it a double-double by adding 12 rebounds, and the Hoosiers won the battle on the boards by a 34-26 margin. From a shooting perspective, IU made good on 47.2 percent of its field goal attempts, which included an 8- of-19 showing from 3-point range, while the Scarlet Knights hit 7-of-17 long- range launches as part of their 44.4 percent effort overall.

Indiana is the No. 1 scoring team in the Big Ten, as it puts up 80.3 ppg, just a few tenths of the points better than second-place Ohio State. Unfortunately, the Hoosiers haven't performed nearly as well with their backs to the basket, as they rank last in the league in scoring defense with an average yield of 72.0 ppg. The team boasts three double-digit scorers in Blackmon (16.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Ferrell (16.1 ppg, 4.7 apg) and Williams (13.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg), and it leads the league in 3-point field goal percentage (.402), as well in made threes per game against Big Ten foes (8.3).

Frank Kaminsky was his usual dominant self in Wisconsin's recent win over Iowa, as the All-America candidate scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the team in both categories. Nigel Hayes tacked on 14 points, while Sam Dekker and Josh Gasser chipped in 11 apiece for the Badgers, who used a 21-13 edge in points at the foul line, coupled with a 35-24 rebounding advantage to earn the double-digit victory. Both teams took very good care of the basketball, combining for just 14 turnovers.

Wisconsin is the best defensive team in the Big Ten, as it permits a mere 55.5 ppg, while at the same time ranking first in the country in fewest turnovers at 7.7 per game. Offensively, the Badgers light up the scoreboard for 73.6 ppg, doing so on the strength of their 48.6 percent overall shooting effort, and their 74.6 percent performance at the free-throw line, with the latter two stats ranking the club second in the conference. Kaminsky has been on top of his game all season long, as he averages 17.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, while also handing out 46 assists, blocking 33 shots and coming up with 19 steals, all of which leads the team, at least among active players. Dekker (12.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Hayes (12.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg) round out the unit's double- digit scorers.