1st place in the Big Ten. That's all that's on the line... No big deal, right?
#2 Indiana (15-1, 3-0) and Wisconsin (12-4, 3-0) both currently boast that glorious title, but after the two meet at Bloomington's Assembly Hall on Tuesday night, only one will be on top of the conference standings. The game can be seen on ESPN with tip off at 8:00 PM CT.
Indiana was the most hyped team entering in to this college basketball season, and with good reason. Coach Tom Crean has assembled his most talented squad yet, anchored by last year's Big Ten freshman of the year Cody Zeller.
The scary thing about this Indiana team is the fact that Zeller- a guy who's bound to be a top 5 pick in a future NBA draft- probably isn't even their best player! This is thanks to junior swingman Victor Oladipo, who has asserted himself as an extremely productive player on the offensive end averaging 13.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.3 apg while also racking up a pesky 2.4 steals per game.
But get this; Oladipo is doing all of this while shooting an insane 68.3% (!) from the field, including 48% from three. If you find your self asking "how is this man human?", I have for you an answer. Oladipo is also averaging 2.5 turnovers a game. Despite that, his numbers are still extremely impressive.
Not only did the Hoosiers return talent from last year, but they also added a top 10 recruiting class, highlighted by Indiana native, point guard Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell. In the Hoosiers' 88-81 win over Minnesota on saturday, Tom Crean seemed to have given Ferrell total control of the offense, and boy, did he take advantage of it.
Ferrell had Indiana's offense clicking, and it was quite scary to watch, as the Hoosiers offense entered the half with an insane 52-29 lead. Yes, a Big Ten basketball team scored 52 points in a half, against a top 10 team in the country, nonetheless. Yogi Ferrell finished with 13 points and 9 assists with only two turnovers. The kid is a great talent who fits almost perfectly into Tom Crean's system.
Indiana ranks 1st in the nation in points per game (87.1), 11th in rebounds per game (41.5), 12th in assists per game (17.1), and 4th in field goal percentange (51.1%). It's safe to say the Hoosiers are a pretty darn good basketball team.
Both Bucky and Indiana are two of the hottest teams in the country right now, each on a 6 game win streak heading in to this game.
Recent history is on the Badgers' side, however. Wisconsin is currently on a 4 game win streak in Bloomington. According to Patrick Herb, Wisconsin Basketball is the only program EVER to win 4 straight games at Assembly Hall. That's impressive.
Keys to the Game
Indiana is a team filled with skilled, athletic players. In their one loss, an 88-86 loss to Butler, the Hoosiers' one fatal flaw was revealed; a lack of physicallity. The key to Butler's victory was beating up Indiana on the glass- the Bulldogs impressively out-rebounded the Hoosiers 37-31. The Badgers have handled their buisness on the boards this year and will need to continue that success Tuesday night.
Tom Crean has, and always will, prefer an up tempo style of basketball and this Hoosiers team is no exception to that. The good news for Badger fans is that Bo Ryan's defenses have done an exceptional job in the past of forcing Crean's teams in to the slow down, grind it out game. As you know, that's usually a game that Ryan and Co. end up winning. The tempo this game is played it will play a big role in the outcome of this game.
To be honest, I think the Badgers match up wonderfully with this Hoosiers team. This game really comes down to execution. If the Badgers come out hot like they did saturday against Illinois, they'll have a great shot at winning this game. If they come out sluggish and miss shots, they'll find themselves in the hole Minnesota couldn't dig out of saturday.
Call me crazy, but I think the Badgers should, and will win in Bloomington tuesday. Bo Ryan just knows how to win these types of games, especially against Tom Crean's teams. I think Ben Brust has a hot shooting night, Mike Bruesewitz locks up Oladipo, and Jared Berggren out-muscles Zeller in route to a huge Wisconsin victory.
Prediction: Wisconsin 72, Indiana 67