Wisconsin comes to Bloomington to face off against the Hoosiers of Indiana as the two Big Ten Basketball teams match up in their regular-season finale with a lot at stake.
Who: Indiana Hoosiers (19-11, 9-10) vs. 24. Wisconsin Badgers (20-10, 13-6)
When: Saturday, March 7 at 12:00 PM ET
Where: Assembly Hall in Bloomington, IN
TV Schedule: ESPN
Red and white squads face off as the Wisconsin Badgers head into Bloomington, IN to take on the Hoosiers in the Big Ten regular-season finale. The Badgers have been on fire recently, winning seven in a row to jump back into a tie atop the Big Ten conference standings and into the AP poll. The Hoosiers have been their usual up and down selves, coming in off a home win against Minnesota after having dropped two in a row. The Hoosiers are not solidly in the tournament and need a win to close out the year and give themselves solid positioning for selection Sunday.
The Hoosier’s could really use the boost that a top-25 victory would give them to fully solidify their place in the tournament field. Indiana has been firmly on the bubble all year, currently a 10-seed in Joe Lunardi’s bracketology, and an extra Quad 1 victory and a .500 conference record in the best conference in college basketball will certainly not hurt their chances to go dancing.
Wisconsin’s place in the Big Dance is fully secured at this point in the season, but they still have plenty to play for on the road. The Badgers certainly sit in a tie with Maryland and Michigan State atop the conference and need to win this one to remain in place. A loss here, and a win by either or both of those teams, and the Badgers fall in the rankings and have a tougher seeding in the conference tournament.
The first match this year, played in Madison, was a nice back and forth affair, for about two minutes. After that, Wisconsin blew the roof off of their own building and blew out Indiana by 20 points on 54% shooting from the floor. The 84 points the Badgers scored are their highest total in Big Ten play, and the only time they broke the 80-point mark in conference play outside of games against teams with corn-based mascots and/or colors.
Indiana struggled in the hostile arena, as they have frequently this year, and shot poorly against Wisconsin’s tough and disciplined defense. Wisconsin did get a big boost from Kobe King, who put up 24 points in the first match but has since left the team to transfer to Nebraska.
This game, however, is being played on the Hoosier’s home court of Assembly Hall, where they have only lost twice this season, and just once in Big Ten play. Wisconsin has only won four games on the road in the Big Ten this year, and two of those were against Northwestern and Nebraska, there very bottom of the barrel for the conference. The Indiana Hoosiers’ Crimson Guard should be out in full force for their last game at home this year and will make life as miserable as it can be (while playing basketball of course so still pretty good) for the Badgers.
This game will feature a fun battle in the post (yes another one in the Big Ten) between Wisconsin’s Nate Reuvers and Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis. The two, each leading their team in scoring, play very different styles, with Reuver’s being a good shooter with post moves, while Jackson-Davis is athletic and loves to run the floor. But, they will likely be covering each other and are both solid defenders and shot blockers, making for some good battles down low. Reuvers got the better of the two in the first match, scoring 20 points while holding Jackson-Davis to only 9, so the younger Jackson-Davis should be hungry for revenge in this one.
Overall, this game will be a battle of converging styles. Neither team likes to take, or make, a lot of threes, but Wisconsin likes their slow methodical pace while Indiana will get out and run. This contrast is exemplified in the showdown between the two headlining big men. Anyone who wakes up early enough to watch this one (noon on Saturday can be tough sometimes) will get to watch a very competitive basketball game between two very incentivized teams. The winner will likely come down to whoever can impose their will and style of play on the other for the longest period of time.
Final Prediction: Indiana – 71, Wisconsin – 66