Badgers take on Hoosiers in Big Ten brawl
Madison, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - The 14th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers take aim at their sixth straight victory on Tuesday, as they host the Indiana Hoosiers in a Big Ten Conference battle at the Kohl Center.
The Badgers have tallied five straight victories, with their last two perhaps being their most impressive of the season. First they topped Michigan, 75-62, in Ann Arbor, and then followed up with a 79-75 triumph over Iowa this past Saturday. They are now 22-5, the best overall mark in the conference, with a road test against Penn State next on the docket.
Indiana hasn't been as hot lately, or much at all this season. The Hoosiers are just 15-11, with a 5-8 success rate against the rest of the Big Ten. They managed to claim a 61-56 win on the road against Northwestern on Saturday, but they had dropped three straight prior to that triumph. They visit Iowa next.
When these two teams met in Bloomington on Jan. 14, Indiana defended its homecourt to claim a 75-72 upset victory. The win ended a 12-game win streak for Wisconsin in the series. Such dominance has normally been earned by the Hoosiers, however, as they are 94-67 all-time against the Badgers.
Defense led Indiana to its victory over Northwestern on Saturday. The Hoosiers limited the Wildcats to just 38.8 percent shooting in the contest, while outscoring them, 30-20, in the paint. Noah Vonleh, Will Sheehey, Troy Williams and Yogi Ferrell all scored 12 points to lead the way.
As a unit Indiana is not scoring at a particularly impressive rate, ranking sixth in the Big Ten in both scoring (72.9 ppg) and field goal percentage (.447). However, they are a solid defensive unit, allowing 66.3 ppg on 40.4 percent shooting. They are also the second-best team in the conference in rebounding (40.2 rpg). Ferrell (17.7 ppg, 3.8 apg) leads the group when it comes to scoring, as well as assists. Vonleh (11.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg) is a sturdy force on the interior, as he leads the Big Ten in rebounding as a freshman. Sheehey (10.2 ppg) is a stable presence as well, providing shooting from beyond the arc and solid defense.
Frank Kaminsky worked his way to 21 points and Sam Dekker posted a double- double with 15 points and 11 rebounds to help lift Wisconsin over Iowa the last time out. Josh Gasser also drained four 3-pointers in the contest, during which the Badgers shot 47.6 percent from the floor and doubled up the Hawkeyes from 3-point range (24-12).
Like Indiana, the Badgers haven't really blown anyone away with their offensive production. They are netting 73.5 ppg while shooting a solid 45.9 percent from the floor, ranking fourth in the Big Ten in each category. However, the Badgers' dedication on defense has been evident as they allow only 63.7 ppg. Kaminsky (13.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Dekker (13.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg) power the team from the interior. Kaminsky has scored at least 20 points in back-to-back games and can really spread the floor, sinking 41 percent from beyond the arc this season. In the backcourt, Ben Brust (12.6 ppg), Traevon Jackson (10.6 ppg) and Gasser (9 ppg) are the best options.