No. 19 Wisconsin looks to feast on struggling Indiana
The No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers have four games remaining in their attempt to secure the coveted double-bye for the Big Ten Tournament. Next in their path are the reeling Indiana Hoosiers.
The teams meet Tuesday night in Bloomington, Ind., the Badgers' second consecutive road game.
The Badgers (19-8, 11-5 Big Ten) sit in fifth place, a half-game behind No. 17 Maryland, which has played one more conference game. The top four teams get a double-bye for the Big Ten tourney, which starts March 13.
Wisconsin enters on a two-game winning streak and winners of eight of its past 10, good enough to jump three spots in this week's AP poll. The Badgers are also in the midst of the softer part of their schedule.
The Hoosiers (13-14, 4-12) are the third straight lower-echelon Big Ten foe for Wisconsin. The Badgers have dispatched Illinois and last-place Northwestern in their past two games, and a fourth consecutive game against a bottom-dweller awaits Wisconsin this Saturday at home against Penn State.
"You want to play in the best conference from top to bottom in the country because you get challenged each and every day," Wisconsin sophomore guard Brad Davison said Saturday after defeating Northwestern.
"At the end of the day, we're all playing for March, and this game got us better for March for sure."
Tuesday's tilt is the only regular-season meeting between Wisconsin and Indiana, losers of five straight. The Hoosiers are coming off a heart-wrenching overtime loss at Iowa.
"We're not playing pouty or have our head down. We've gotten past that point. We're a very desperate team," Indiana coach Archie Miller said after Friday's loss.
The Hoosiers have lost their past two games -- to Purdue and Iowa -- by a combined eight points.
"We've played two (ranked) teams all the way to the buzzer. At some point, that has to come around our way if we stay with it, if we have a great attitude," Miller said.
Tuesday's game pits a showdown between two of the Big Ten's top scorers in Wisconsin versatile big man Ethan Happ and Indiana freshman sensation Romeo Langford. The pair enters this week Nos. 5 and 6 among conference scoring leaders.
Happ is Mr. Everything for the Badgers, averaging 17.7 points per game while also leading the team in rebounds (10.2) and assists (4.7). The only thing the 6-foot-10 Happ hasn't done is make a 3-pointer this season.
The 6-6 Langford leads Indiana at 17.0 points per game and with 29 3-pointers, although he only shoots at a 27.1 percent clip.
In fact, the Hoosiers lack a 40 percent shooter from behind the 3-point line while Wisconsin features three -- guards D'Mitrik Trice (43.4 percent), Davison (40.7) and Brevin Pritzl (40.0).
Even at 39.4 percent, Wisconsin's Nate Reuvers would be Indiana's best 3-point shooter.
Indiana guard Aljami Durham is the team's best 3-point shooter at 36.8 percent among players with more than two attempts from behind the arc.
Indiana's long-range shooting woes don't portend well against a Wisconsin defense that was ranked 10th best in the nation in scoring defense (61.3 ppg) coming out of weekend play. Further, Wisconsin holds its opponents to 39.7 percent shooting, good for top 20 in the country.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 25, 2019