Eight games into the season, Indiana remains as one of the 16 remaining unbeaten teams and one of three in the Big Ten. Despite a poor strength of schedule, they proved they can play the top talent in the country with a statement win over the Florida State Seminoles.

The next logical step in the progression to developing this young team is to play a tough team on the road, and they will be tested when Indiana visits Madison this weekend. Indiana is now in the top 20 per Kenpom (20), but still have a lowly rated strength of schedule despite playing Florida State.

Wisconsin is vulnerable and on a down year from their usual consistent dominance in the Big Ten. They are currently 4-4 and on a 3 game losing streak, with the closest of the three being a 9 point loss at home to Richmond.

Wisconsin has had a season with ups-and-downs with wins over low ranked teams (EIU, Green Bay), but also surprised with a 77-61 win over Marquette with 6 players over 10 points for the Badgers and keeping Markus Howard to a measly 18 points on a rough 6-21 outing.

Outside of the good, the ugly has shown its head when playing their last 3 games. Against New Mexico, the Badgers shot an impressive 26 3 point attempts, but converted 2 in this neutral site game for the Legends Classic. This put their percentage at an awful 7.7%. Against NC State, the Badgers did slightly better with 21%. Also, the Badgers (and Wolfpack), were stuck at 4 points for nearly 7 minutes of game time. This offense has been an awful weakness for the Badgers that they need to solve to stand a chance with high caliber, quick shooting teams.

Wisconsin’s defense has been reasonable this year with a Kenpom ranking of 35, but their offense has been holding them back with an adjusted offense of 112. Also, not surprisingly, the Badgers are 277 in 3PT% with 29.7% on the season. Their overall ranking is at 60th, but they will be favored to win against the Hoosiers this weekend due to their strong home advantage similar to the Hoosiers when they are at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

This will be the time to make another statement win for the Hoosiers. However, they have not won in Madison in over 20 years (last win being on January 25, 1998 with Bob Knight as head coach). Indiana has a lead on the overall series against Wisconsin, with an all-time record of 96 to 75. Their meeting on Saturday will be game number 172 in the series.

How to Watch

WhoIndiana Hoosiers vs. Wisconsin Badgers
WhenSaturday | December 7, 2019 | 4:30 p.m. ET
WhereKohl Center – Madison, Wis.
TicketsFind the Lowest Ticket Prices on SeatGeek
StatsLive Stats
ListenIU Radio Network

Getting to Know the Badgers

Coached by Greg Gard, the Badgers are in their fifth season with him at the helm. He has extensive experience being on the coaching staff for Wisconsin coaching team since 2001 – long enough for him to not have experienced a loss at home to Indiana. Under Greg Gard, the Badgers have not had immense success since their title game showing in 2015 under Bo Ryan.

After the loss of Ethan Happ, the Badgers were still predicted to finish in the middle of the conference with the help of Nate Reuvers taking over much of his role as being the big man that can score. Thus far, he has lived up to his role with a large bump in his production from 7.9 to 15.3 points per game and almost double rebounds to 5.7 per game. What may be most impressive, is his lowest scoring game being 10 this season so he has been a consistent source of production.

The Badgers continue to play their slow, low-scoring ball game that they have in many recent years. They have one of the slowest tempos in the country with a 346th ranked tempo, right below Purdue (and with Virginia ranked last).

To add salt to the wound, redshirt Junior Micah Potter has not been able to play this season due to NCAA transfer policies keeping him off the team for the Fall semester. December 21 he will be able to rejoin the team against UW-Milwaukee so he will be available for the rematch against Indiana on March 7, 2019 in Bloomington to end the regular season.

Even though the Badgers have struggled this season, they still have one of the highest rated recruiting classes for 2020 with 2 four-star and 3-three star recruits to attend the team next year making them 17th overall. A big part of their success in recruiting is reliant on their ability to develop players such as Frank Kaminsky (Phoenix Suns) and Ethan Happ (Vanoli Cremona) into players at the next level.

Projected Starting Lineups

G: #34 Brad DavisonG: #1 Al Durham
G: #23 Kobe KingG: #2 Armaan Franklin
G: #0 D’Mitrik TriceF: #3 Justin Smith
F: #35 Nate ReuversF: #4 Trayce Jackson-Davis
F: #2 Aleem FordC: #50 Joey Brunk

What to Watch for

1. Leaving Home Sweet Home for the first time of 2019-2020

Indiana has had an obvious cushion of overmatched teams to feast on early and a great win against Florida State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but still lack the next hurdle – a road victory. They remain one of the nations most untested teams so far, but by the end of the season, the Hoosiers will be tested plenty both at home and on the road.

Wisconsin offers a great opportunity to test themselves early in the season in a game they should be competitive for and are favored to win per some sources, but others showing the Badgers are still favored despite their 4-4 record to the Hoosiers 8-0. Regardless, the Wisconsin faithful are starting to panic about the lack of results this season so far.

A big reason is the heavy home-court advantage for the Badgers in the Kohl Center. The Hoosiers just have not had the cards fall their way with over 20 years of losses on the road to Wisconsin – dating all the way back to the Bob Knight era being the last time Indiana won in Madison. Whistles in Kohl Center have been notoriously unfavorable for Indiana, but this is not a reason to lose over 20 years in a row.

This new look Indiana squad will be put to the test against a new look Wisconsin squad. We will learn a lot more about this team after the game Saturday

2. L1, R1, Square, R1, Left, R2, R1, Left, Square, Down, L1, L1

Everyone should know what this means, but if you don’t, here’s a short reminder.

Devonte has the tattoo on his arm that seems to give him unlimited ability to drop huge point games, but he has not unlocked it this season yet other than against Florida State and dropping an impressive 30 points against one of the best defensive teams in the country.

He is also one of the more streaky players on the team with games such as this one, but games where he will make 4 turnovers with 4 points total. Archie must understand that this cheat code for Indiana needs to be unlocked more often for the Hoosiers to dominate the rest of the Big Ten conference play. Hopefully for the Hoosiers, they have figured it out for this weekend and beyond.

If Green can stay hot, the game will look very different offensively. Otherwise, Indiana will have to resort to a balanced scoring performance from the rest of the group.

3. The Return of Rob Phinisee

Phinisee has been out for a streak of games now for various health reasons and the Hoosiers need to get him back as soon as possible. He originally had a concussion that kept him out last month which turned into a rolled ankle and being in a boot and on the sideline for the game against Florida State. As of Dec. 4, he is still in said boot and his status is unknown for this weekend.

He offers a great sense of ball security and decision making that is invaluable to the Hoosiers for their guard position. Without Rob, the Hoosiers need to rely much more heavily on Armaan Franklin and Devonte Green to lead the team, which is not a problem due to the depth the Hoosiers seem to have this year, but having all options back as soon as possible will only make the team more versatile and dangerous.

Update December 6: It seems like it will be once again unlikely for Rob Phinisee to return to the floor. Archie Miller met with the media on Friday afternoon and said, “Rob is still treated as day-to-day. To be honest, he’s nursing a single injury, which is an ankle injury… I would said doubtful this weekend and early next week.”

4. A slow, steady, and methodical game

Greg Gard has his Badgers playing at one of the slowest paces in college basketball, the Badgers currently have an average possession length of 19.7 seconds, which equates to a 346th ranking in adjusted tempo. There are only seven schools in Division-1 college basketball that play slower than the Badgers.

Indiana has experience against teams that play at that pace, but not quite at the skill level of Wisconsin. Princeton is currently at the border of the teams ranked in the 300s in adjusted tempo.

Interesting, Archie Miller wants Indiana to increase their defensive time of possession. The longer into the shot clock the Hoosiers’ defense takes Wisconsin, the happier Miller will be with the team. Right after his comments against Louisiana Tech about Indiana not playing defense for extended amounts, the team immediately opened up with a shot clock violation against South Dakota State just a game later.

Look for Indiana to be pesky on defense, clog passing lanes, and deny the baseline. If they can also be effective in closing on the ball-handler, the Hoosiers will have many opportunities to force a Badgers’ shot with less than five seconds on the shot clock.

Featured Photo: Wisconsin Athletics

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