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What to Expect: Wisconsin at Indiana – Inside the Hall

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Indiana returns home to Assembly Hall Tuesday night for a matchup with Wisconsin. The Badgers are 18-9 overall and 10-6 in Big Ten play.

Tuesday’s game will tip at 7 p.m. ET on Peacock:

Indiana’s loss Saturday afternoon at Penn State stretched the program’s losing streak to four games, its longest of the season. The Hoosiers are now just one game above .500 at 14-13 and are 6-10 in conference play.

Wisconsin, which easily beat Indiana 91-79 last month in Madison, comes to town Tuesday looking for a season sweep. The Badgers started Big Ten play 8-1 but have dropped four of their last six games.

THE FIRST MATCHUP

Indiana had its worst defensive performance of the season to date at the Kohl Center on Jan. 19.

The Badgers scored 91 and 1.403 points per possession, barely surpassing the 1.399 Auburn scored against the Hoosiers in Atlanta.

Wisconsin made 69.2 percent of its 2s, 47.7 percent of its 3s and shot 86.2 percent from the free throw line on 29 attempts. After that performance, Indiana’s defense ranked 88th nationally in adjusted efficiency by KenPom.

The defense has fallen even more since, as the Hoosiers currently sit 113th nationally in defense, according to Pomeroy. Indiana has surrendered at least 1.031 points per possession in 10 straight games.

The most frustrating part about the performance for the Hoosiers was it was a wasted offensive effort. Indiana actually scored 53 points in the second half at the Kohl Center and was still beaten soundly.

The Hoosiers scored 1.22 points per possession, still their best output yet in a conference game, in the loss. Two individuals who were outstanding in the loss were Malik Reneau and Mackenzie Mgbako.

Reneau scored 20 of his 28 points in the second half, while Mgbako had 15 of his 18 after intermission.

The first matchup also saw Wisconsin guard Max Klesmit get under the skin of IU sophomore CJ Gunn. Klesmit rubbed his forehead on Gunn during a dead ball situation and Gunn responded with an elbow, which resulted in an ejection. It was the second straight game an IU player was ejected.

Klesmit finished with 26 points in 30 minutes. He was 5-for-7 on 3s.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

All stats in the graphic below are via KenPom.com, are updated through Sunday’s games and are for conference games only.

While Wisconsin has cooled off considerably since the first meeting, the Badgers still boast one of the Big Ten and the nation’s best offensive units. Wisconsin ranks 17th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to KenPom.

In Big Ten games, Wisconsin ranks first in the league in 2-point field goal shooting percentage (53.1), sixth in 3-point field goal shooting percentage (35.5) and fourth in free throw shooting percentage (77.3). Indiana, meanwhile, is shooting 52 percent on 2s, 31.3 percent on 3s and 62.5 percent from the free throw line.

Defensively, Wisconsin excels in two key areas: the defensive boards and keeping its opponents off the foul line. Badger opponents are grabbing just 23.4 percent of their missed shots, the lowest in the Big Ten. And Wisconsin conference opponents have a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of just 29.1 percent, the second lowest in the conference.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

The KenPom projection is Wisconsin by five with a 31 percent chance of a Hoosier victory.

Despite their recent slide, the Badgers should have confidence coming into Tuesday’s game. Wisconsin won the first matchup easily and Assembly Hall hasn’t been unkind to opposing teams this season as the Hoosiers have dropped three straight on Branch McCracken Court.

Indiana’s fall to near the bottom of the Big Ten standings has produced plenty of angst in the fanbase, which produced some audible boos in Assembly Hall during last week’s loss against Nebraska.

While some growing pains were to be expected this season due to the roster turnover, the season has been a failure to this point by Mike Woodson. The Hoosiers are 13th of 14 Big Ten teams in KenPom and the NET. While Woodson has referenced injuries and youth as two issues, the poor roster construction and lack of player development by some of the younger players in the program are more significant issues.

From close calls against inferior competition during the non-conference to getting blown out frequently this season, this IU team has made no clear progress. With just four regular season games left, questions about Woodson’s ability to get Indiana off the mat will persist as long as the losses continue.

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