In your daily reminder that the Big Ten is going to be an absolute battle for the next two months, the Wisconsin Badgers went into Assembly Hall on Tuesday night and knocked off the No. 2 Indiana Hoosiers, 64-59.
It wasn't long ago that Bo Ryan's squad was struggling against Penn State and Nebraska, but now the Badgers are suddenly 13-4 (4-0) and have a win in one of the hardest places in the country to play.
Who is going to win the Big Ten?
The Badgers slowed the game down, played a hard-nosed, physical defense and made some timely threes and jump shots.
Indiana entered the game first in the nation in points per game with 87.1 and second in points per possession at 1.189, but looked absolutely lost on that side of the court against Wisconsin's scrappy defense.
Cody Zeller finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds, but he was shut down in the second half. Victor Oladipo had 10 points, but with the pace slowed and the inability to get in transition, he wasn't able to make his normal impact. And the normally steady Jordan Hulls made several uncharacteristic errors.
Still, despite the offensive struggles, the Hoosiers upped the full-court pressure after falling behind 51-41 with 10 minutes remaining and were able to cut the lead to one on several occasions.
But Ryan Evans and Traevon Jackson hit two huge jumpers down the stretch and the Badgers knocked down their free throws to hold on for the win.
Evans led the Badgers with 13 points, while Jackson chipped in 11 and Jared Berggren added five of his own, two of which came on this beauty:
With the loss, the Hoosiers fall to 15-2 (3-1).
Remember the "good" Cody Zeller? Well, he proved in the first half he's still actually here (via College Basketball Talk's Rob Dauster):
Oh hey, National Player of the Year candidate Cody Zeller, it's good to see you. I thought you stayed in 2011-2012?— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) January 16, 2013
OK, OK. Maybe he never really went anywhere (via ESPN's Eamonn Brennan):
Looking forward to the the “Cody Zeller is back!” meme. He entered tonight at 128.5 ORtg on 24.2% usage, 64% 2FG, 7.1 FD/40, 5.5 % block rt— Eamonn Brennan (@eamonnbrennan) January 16, 2013
Still, though, Zeller, who went 8-of-8 in the first half for 18 points, looked far more assertive than he has all season. The ability to dominate a game will always be there for the sophomore stud—he just can't disappear like he did in the final 20 minutes.
Of course, Wisconsin had its own impressive big man in this one. Early on, Jared Berggren sent down a monstrous slam over Victor Oladipo, which caused former baller Wally Szczerbiak to freak out just a little:
Before the game was over, CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb had the guts to send out this tweet:
1)Michigan 2)Wisconsin 3)Indiana 4)Ohio State…then what?— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) January 16, 2013
Can you imagine the mutiny if he had said something like that a week ago? It's truly amazing how deep the conference is and how quickly things can change.
Late in the game, Ryan Evans and Traevon Jackson hit two huge shots despite ferocious defense by Indiana, and Grantland's Shane Ryan began to wonder how exactly they fell in the hoop:
And please don't tell me Bo Ryan "eviled" that shot in. I hear where you're coming from, but unfortunately we can't prove it.— Shane Ryan (@TobaccoRdBlues) January 16, 2013
CBS Sports' Seth Davis summed up the upset well:
This game has been all about toughness. Physical, mental. Poise. Wisconsin has had it, Indiana hasn't. Cap is off....— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) January 16, 2013
And that's simply what Bo Ryan does. No matter who he has on his team, he'll get them to play that tough style, and he'll get them to win. It's as certain as some other stuff (via CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein):
Death. Taxes. Bo Ryan. What a win for Wisconsin.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 16, 2013
And then there's me: