Wisconsin Basketball heads to Assembly Hall Tuesday evening to take on a struggling Indiana team.
For a program with as rich of a history as Indiana, it might surprise some to see just how emphatically Wisconsin has dominated this head to head matchup as of late.
The Badgers are 25-5 against the Hoosiers since 2002, and have won 19 of the last 21 meetings. Their last loss came in 2015-16 against an Indiana team that won the Big Ten regular-season crown on its way to a Sweet Sixteen run. Since then, Wisconsin has enjoyed five straight victories in the series.
This year’s Hoosiers, losers of five straight games and 12 of their last 13, will be hard-pressed to reverse that trend on Tuesday. While they are coming off of a soul-crushing overtime loss to Iowa last Friday, the Badgers have won two in a row and should be in good spirits coming off of another gritty road win over Northwestern. Wisconsin can also pull themselves back into a tie with Maryland for fourth place in the Big Ten with a win. Given the incredible depth in the conference this season, a top four finish would be a tremendous feat that Badgers fans would be proud of.
Regardless, head coach Archie Miller has talent on his roster, and the Hoosiers won’t go down easy in Assembly Hall. Can the Badgers pull out yet another Big Ten grinder?
No. 19 WISCONSIN (19-8)
G – D’Mitrik Trice – SO (12.6 ppg)
G – Brad Davison- SO (11.5 ppg)
F – Khalil Iverson – SR (5.3 ppg)
F – Nathan Reuvers – SO (8.4 ppg)
C – Ethan Happ – SR (17.7 ppg)
G – Rob Phinisee – FR (6.5 ppg)
G – Romeo Langford – FR (17.0 ppg)
G – Aljami Durham – SO (7.8 ppg)
F – De’Ron Davis – JR (5.1 ppg)
F – Juwan Morgan – SR (15.1 ppg)
Keys to the game and prediction
Wisconsin must be careful to not underestimate this Indiana team, regardless of how miserable its season has been. The Hoosiers are capable of beating just about any team in the country, having taken down squads like Marquette, Louisville, and Michigan State (in East Lansing), and coming brutally close to doing so against Purdue and Iowa (twice) as well.
Indiana can be a dangerous team in large part because it boasts two of the conference’s best players in freshman guard Romeo Langford and senior forward Juwan Morgan. The two stars form one of the Big Ten’s most formidable scoring duos, and if they each live up to their billing and have big games on Tuesday against Wisconsin, the Hoosiers will be in pretty good shape to score the upset.
However, because Langford and Morgan are their only two double-digit scorers, if one of them is off, Indiana is going to have a difficult time beating a Top 25 opponent. Unfortunately, they are going up against a suffocating Wisconsin defense that about as tough as any they have previously faced this season. Khalil Iverson has been crucial to that success as the team’s best defender, and he will likely be matched up with Langford. The outcome of that battle will be critical to game’s final result. The senior forward has been playing his best ball of the season lately, and I like him to shut down the freshman phenom. If that prediction holds, the Badgers win without question.
You would think that the factor working the most in the Hoosiers’ favor would be the hostile environment of Assembly Hall, traditionally one of the most raucous arenas in the country. However, the Badgers have had unusual success in Bloomington as of late, winning six of their last eight there dating back to 2008.
The vast majority of Wisconsin’s conference games this season have been relatively tight, and given Indiana’s desperation for a victory, proven ability to compete with top teams, home-court advantage, and star power in Langford and Morgan, I see no reason why this matchup will be any different. However, the Badgers have been excellent on the road this season, and considering just how successful they have been against the Hoosiers in over the last decade-plus, I just don’t envision this year’s disappointing version of Indiana getting the job done.
Wisconsin wins, 66-60.
All stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com