When: 9:00 PM EST, Tuesday, February 26th, 2019
Where: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
How to watch: ESPN
With the Hoosiers coming off yet another disappointing loss to Iowa, their 12th in the last 13 games, Indiana will be forced to set their sights on the visiting Wisconsin Badgers. Indiana is desperately looking for a way to break out of their current slump, and the Badgers have their sights set on securing a tournament berth.
Coming into this contest ranked 22nd in the nation, Wisconsin has put together a solid season that should see them back into the tournament after missing the dance last season. The Badgers have historically given Indiana fits, and the Hoosiers will have their hands full as they look to pull off the upset.
Priority number one for Indiana in this game will be trying to find a way to slow down Ethan Happ. After returning to Wisconsin for his senior season, Happ has carried the Badgers for much of this season, leading his team in scoring, rebounding, and assists. Happ is one of just three players in the Big Ten to average a double-double on the season, doing so with 17.7 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game, along with adding 4.7 assists per game. Indiana has struggled to defend effective post players so far this season, and Happ may be their toughest challenge yet.
Another player the Hoosiers will need to keep their eye on will be sharp shooting guard D’Mitrik Trice, who leads Wisconsin in three-point shooting at 43.4% on the season. It will be crucial that Indiana stay with Trice at all times, as he has proven not to be shy at shooting the ball, averaging just under six three-point attempts per game.
Brad Davidson is another player to look out for and is the only other Badger player outside of Happ and Trice to average in double figures. Davidson adds 11.5 points along with 3.3 rebounds per game on the season, and his three-point percentage of 40.7% makes him a deadly shooter as well.
However, the biggest task the Hoosiers will likely face on Tuesday night will be trying to find a way to break the Badgers defense. Indiana has struggled mightily at times on the offensive end of the floor this season, and the Badgers boast one of the top defenses in the Big Ten. Wisconsin comes in at 2nd in the Big Ten in scoring defense, as well as the 3rd in the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense.
Defensively, Indiana will need to be solid both inside and outside when they take on Wisconsin. Happ is sure to cause problems for Indiana all night long, but part of what makes him so effective is the spacing that Wisconsin can provide for him on the inside. The Badgers boast the top three-point shooting team in the conference, shooting an astonishing 38.6% as a team from behind the arc. This makes it very dangerous to help off shooters in an effort to slow down Happ on the inside and makes Wisconsin’s offense a unique challenge to face.
The Hoosiers have played better of late, of that there is no doubt, but they have had trouble closing out games. Indiana is clearly desperate for a win, but whether than can put together a solid 40-minute effort remains to be seen. If Indiana wants to secure the upset, they’ll need to find a way to do just that.