The third day of January may be too early to hit the panic button in college basketball, but two games into conference play, the fans in Bloomington, Ind., have to at least be sweating a little bit.
Indiana, which began the season ranked No. 11 and reached as high as No. 3, suffered its third straight loss on Tuesday night, falling to No. 13 Wisconsin 75-68 at Assembly Hall. It was also the second straight loss at home for the 25th-ranked Hoosiers, who now sit 0-2 in conference play and should fall out of the rankings altogether.
The Badgers, on the other hand, have won nine in a row and join Michigan State and Nebraska as the only teams at 2-0 in Big Ten play.
The game actually looked like it was headed for a blowout in the early going Tuesday, Wisconsin (13-2, 2-0 Big Ten) scoring the game’s first 13 points and stretched its lead to 16-2 with less than 4 minutes off the clock.
The Hoosiers (10-5, 0-2) scored the next 10 points and trimmed the lead to just 1 at the break, 38-37. Indiana actually took the lead multiple times in the second half, but back-to-back baskets by Zak Showalter — a layup and a 3-pointer — stretched a 2-point Wisconsin lead to 7, 66-59, with 4:34 to play.
Sophomore Ethan Happ led all scorers with 19 points as four of the Badgers’ starting five scored in double figures (Vitto Brown the lone exception, as he had 8).
The Hoosiers actually shot better from the field, held the advantage at the free-throw line, and out-rebounded the Badgers 32-25. But Indiana committed nearly twice as many turnovers as its opponent (13-7) and made only half as many 3-pointers as the Badgers.
Indiana’s next game will also be at home, Saturday against Illinois. Surging Wisconsin will be at No. 20 Purdue on Sunday.