Thanks to 10-seed Indiana’s upset of 7-seed Iowa on Thursday, 24th-ranked Wisconsin basketball will tip off its Big Ten Tournament against an opponent it has had no trouble with in the past: Tom Crean.
The at-times controversial coach’s is 2-15 against the Badgers during his tenure in Bloomington, including an 0-2 mark this season. The second-seeded Badgers go for win No. 16 on Friday while trying to turn around their recent struggles.
The Badgers stumbled to end the regular season, losing five of their last seven to relinquish a 2-game lead in the Big Ten and a top-10 ranking. They managed to stop the bleeding with a key win against Minnesota in the regular-season finale, but they still face pressing issues that were manifesting even before the losses started piling up, mainly free-throw shooting and an over-reliance on Ethan Happ.
Even with a loss on Friday, Wisconsin is likely to make the NCAA Tournament. But where its Big Ten Tournament run ends could be the difference between opening the NCAA Tournament in Milwaukee as a high seed and being a No. 9 or 10 seed.
Indiana basketball vs. Wisconsin game time, details
Date: Friday, March 9
Time: 5:30 p.m. CT/6:30 p.m. ET
Location: Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
What TV channel broadcasts Indiana basketball vs. Wisconsin?
The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
How can I watch Indiana basketball vs. Wisconsin online?
The Big Ten Network will stream the game on BTN2Go, as well as all BTN2Go apps.
How can I listen to Indiana basketball vs. Wisconsin on the radio?
The Wisconsin call for the game will be on the Badger Sports Network. A list of affiliates can be found here and the game can be heard online here. Indiana’s call will be streamed here and the Hoosiers’ affiliates are listed here.
Wisconsin’s keys to the game
Happ has feasted both times he’s faced Indiana this season, scoring a combined 39 points on a comically efficient 16-of-21 shooting with 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals. Clearly, he’s had no trouble with All-Big Ten third-team selection Thomas Bryant — or any other defense Crean has thrown at him.
The last time Nigel Hayes made more than half of his shots was a month ago, on Feb. 9 against Nebraska. Not coincidentally, that’s also the Badgers’ last win before their slide down the standings began, their only wins coming against Maryland (when Hayes scored a team-high 21 points) and Minnesota (Hayes went 5 of 10, his most efficient night in the skid). Happ might be the engine of the Badgers’ offense, but it’s looking more and more like Hayes is the key to making that vehicle go anywhere.
And the Ugly
The Badgers went a combined 11 for 30 from the free-throw line in their final two regular season games and the two players above, Happ and Hayes, are the main reasons why. The Badgers’ duo down low combined for a 5-of-20 line from the charity stripe during those two games, which is another level of awful. As we enter postseason play, every missed free throw is going to become increasingly frustrating.