Indiana Hoosiers Hope to Get out of Funk Against Wisconsin Badgers

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IFebruary 12, 2010

The Hoosiers could learn a thing or two from the Wisconsin Badgers.

They have been the model of consistency in NCAA basketball over the last 10 years with Bo Ryan as head coach.

They have been in the NCAA tournament 11 years in a row, and should make it 12 this season. In that span, they have won three Big Ten regular season titles, two Big Ten tournament titles, and made a final four appearance.

The Badgers also hold a remarkable 133-11 record on their home court under Ryan; the Hoosiers have to venture into this environment tomorrow.

For the Hoosiers, after having some success with Bob Knight's successor Mike Davis, and his successor Kelvin Sampson, they hit rock bottom in the spring of 2008. Recruiting violations from the NCAA on Sampson shook the foundation of the Hoosier squad, sending it to the point where it is now.

Luckily for Hoosier fans, the Cream and Crimson are back on their way up, although they have experienced the ups and downs that all young teams face during the season.

Indiana runs into the Kohl Center with a 9-14 (3-8 in conference) record, and a five game losing streak, the longest of the season.

Three of the losses (Iowa, Northwestern, Ohio State) came in games where the Hoosiers displayed sub-par performances from all members on the team. They lacked the intensity and passion that we saw in other games this season, including the two close losses to Illinois (72-70) and Purdue (78-75).

Meanwhile, Wisconsin heads into this game coming off a rare home loss to Illinois, their first loss to an unranked Big Ten team at home under Bo Ryan (51-1).

Wisconsin lead by as much as nine in the first half, and were up 35-33 at the half. But in the second half, Illinois stuck with Wisconsin. The Badgers scored just three points in the final 5:13 minutes of the game, losing 63-56.

However, the Badgers are still ranked No. 11 in the country, and the Hoosiers will have their hands full defending them and scoring on them.

Wisconsin's swing offense is incredibly patient and efficient, averaging 67.3 points on 45 percent shooting from the field, including 35 percent from three, and committing just 9.2 turnovers per game.

On defense, they give up just 56.5 points per game and do an excellent job at defending in the post while taking charges.

They are led by senior guards Trevon Hughes (15.3 points per game) and Jason Bohannon (11.3 points per game), along with junior forward Keaton Nankivil (8.8 points, five rebounds per game).

All three have stepped up their game since their leading scorer and big man, junior forward Jon Leuer, went down early in the season with a wrist injury.

Like the Hoosiers, the Badgers now have some height issues, and play a much smaller lineup, but they have still done a good enough job defensively to keep winning games.

Indiana is led by sophomore guard Verdell Jones (14.7 points per game) and freshman forward Christian Watford (12.5 points, six rebounds).

While the team has shown a lot of inconsistency as of late, they have the tendency to play up to their opponents level, and keep some games close to give themselves a chance to win.

If the Hoosiers want to have a chance to win this game, they must not rush anything on the defensive end, move their feet, and make sure they get on top of screens so they don't leave Hughes or Bohannon open for three.

On the other end of the court, Indiana must not rush up any shots. They must find a way to score inside, as they will actually have a height advantage over the 6'8'' Nankivil.

If they can do that, combined with some three point shooting, the Hoosiers have a great chance of staying in this game.

Both teams will be looking to get a win after a loss, and this should make for an intense, physical Big Ten showdown.

Knowing Indiana coach Tom Crean's relationship with Wisconsin basketball (Crean played Wisconsin every season with Marquette), the Hoosiers will be prepared and ready to go come tip-off.

Indiana vs. Wisconsin, 2:00 p.m. eastern time Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin (Kohl Center) on the Big Ten Network.

Probable Starting Lineups

  1   Jordan Hulls, G (6'0", Fr.)
  5   Jeremiah Rivers, G (6'5", R-Jr.)
12   Verdell Jones III, G (6'5", So.)
  2   Christian Watford, F (6'9", Fr.)
25   Tom Pritchard, F (6'9", So.)

  3   Trevon Hughes, G (6'0", Sr.)
11   Jordan Taylor, G (6'1", Sr.)
12   Jason Bohannon, G (6'2", Sr.)
24   Tim Jarmusz, G/F (6'6", Jr.)
52   Keaton Nankivil, F/C (6'8", Jr.)


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