Badgers Face Huge Test Against Hoosiers

Cody Zeller#25 Wisconsin (16-5, 5-3 Big Ten) puts their 4 game winning streak on the line as they host #16 Indiana (16-4, 4-4 Big Ten) at the Kohl Center thursday night. The game can be watched on ESPN, tip is at 8:00 PM CT.

The Badgers enter this game on a much needed winning streak, including a huge win Sunday when they defeated Illinois 67-63 at Assembly Hall. Wisconsin star PG Jordan Taylor recorded 19 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assist in the victory. After being absent for a while, Wisconsin jumped back into the polls this week, ranking 25th in both the coaches and AP polls.

Shooting has been the key for the Badger’s recent success. In their three game losing streak, Wisconsin shot just 33.3% and scored 55.5 points a game. In their current 4 game winning streak, the Badgers have shot 43.4% and have scored 65.3 points a game. Bucky is playing its best basketball of the year and looks to continue that against the Hoosiers.

Indiana, on the other hand, is playing the worst they have all season, dropping three of their last four games. The Hoosiers started the season 15-1 before their 3 game losing streak started. They lost to a terrible Minnesota team at home, got clobbered at Ohio State, and lost a heartbreaker at Nebraska. Indiana picked up their first win in two weeks when they beat Penn State 73-54 on Sunday. 

Despite the recent losing streak, the Hoosier’s have been one of the nations most surprising teams this year. Indiana finished with one of the Big Ten’s worst records last year going 12-19. Tom Crean has turned around the program drastically. The Hoosier’s 15-1 start was one of the best in school history. Indiana jumped on to the national stage when they defeated #1 ranked Kentucky 73-72 on a game winning buzzer-beater three pointer. Just three weeks later, the Hoosiers beat #2 Ohio State 74-70. 

This is one of the biggest games of the year for the Big Ten title race as it’s the only time these teams meet in the regular season this year. Wisconsin is currently 4th in the Big Ten standings while Indiana is at 6th. Both teams have legitamite chances at winning the B1G. The winner of this game will be right up at the top of the pack with Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State. While the loser of this game while be virtually out of the race.

Wisconsin owns a 8 game winning streak against the Hoosiers, dating back to 2007. Indiana hasn’t won at the Kohl Center since 1998. The Badgers hold a 10 game winning streak over Indiana in Madison. Last year the Badgers defeated the Hoosiers 69-60 at the Kohl Center. Wisconsin also won the other meeting, beating Indiana 77-67 at Assembly Hall off of a monster game by Jordan Taylor, who scored 39 points.

The key matchup in this game will be how the Badgers defense can handle Freshman sensation Cody Zeller. A highly rated reqruit, Zeller stunned a few people when he picked Indiana over the school of his brother, UNC. Zeller is averaging 15.1 points and 6.4 rebounds a game. The 6’11 Forward is shooting 65.9%, scoring most on post moves and layups inside. Zeller has a tendency to control the inside during games. He has a full arsenal of post moves and has a solid jump shot. Badger big men Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans can’t let Zeller get into a rythm. It should be a very tough, physical game, so they better be ready for a battle.

When the Indiana offense is clicking, they are very tough to stop. The Hoosiers average 79.9 points a game, which is the 16th best in the nation. Indiana is shooting 50.0% on the year, the 5th best shooting percentage in the country . Yes, you read that correctly. The Hoosiers make half of the shots they take.  That’s mostly because of the high quality shots the Hoosier big men Christian Watford and Cody Zeller create.

Wisconsin is up for one of their biggest defense battles of the year. If they can play tough aggresive defense and continue their hot shooting, they should have no problem against the Hoosiers. I think the Badgers will come out strong and ready for the challenge.

I would like to note that Wisconsin’s 3 game skid ended, and four game winning streak started after my first article on Madtown Badgers. Maybe I’m a good luck charm?

Prediction: Wisconsin 63, Indiana 56.

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