Indiana Hoosiers vs. Wisconsin Badgers Preview and Pick

(11) Indiana Hoosiers +4 at (13) Wisconsin Badgers -4, Thu. Jan 31, Kohl Center, 9 pm EST, ESPN.
by Matt of

The Indiana Hoosiers (17-2) travel to Madison Thursday night to take on the Wisconsin Badgers (16-3) in a Big Ten Conference clash. Both squads are inside the NCAA top-25 and each team is looking for a win to maintain its place in the conference and national standings. A 9:00 pm EST tip from the Kohl Center, the game is carried nationally by ESPN.

The Hoosiers look to stay perfect in the conference where they have earned 6 Ws to this point; Indiana also brings an unblemished 4-0 road mark to this game. The Hoosiers did suffer a loss in their last game, 63-68 to UConn on Saturday. Back in conference, they look to return to form and stay in the Big Tens drivers seat with a victory. Indiana handled Iowa at home 65-43 on the 23rd prior to the UConn slip up.

The Badgers have surprised many with a solid campaign thus far despite losing Alando Tucker to the NBA. Wisconsin currently sits second in the Big Ten at 6-1 with Michigan State and Purdue, and a win will bring Bucky into a first place tie with the Hoosiers. The one conference loss did come in the Badgers last game; where they were nipped at Purdue 56-60. Wisconsin owns one of the best home court advantages in the NCAA; they look to add another tally to their 12-1 home mark in 07-08.

Indiana brings an 8-7-1 mark against the spread into Thursday, including a 5-1 ATS record in their last six on the road. While the Hoosiers have worked the Badgers against the spread lately (4-1 in the last 5), the same cant be said for Indianas most recent Big Ten results overall, where they have a 4-10-1 ATS record in the last 15 conference games.

The Badgers grind it out style leads to close games and contributes to Wisconsins solid overall record as well as their less than stellar 7-9 mark against the spread. The sub .500 trend continues at the Kohl Center where the Badgers are 3-7 ATS on the year including 0 for their last 7.

The Big Ten tends to play physical, lower scoring games, with the edge given to the home school. That has proved true here, with the off shore books posting the Badgers as an early 4 point favorite.

Indiana has taken two of the last three meetings between these schools, with the Hoosiers most recently handing the Badgers a 71-66 defeat in Bloomington. The teams split two 06-07 meetings with Indiana posting a 61-56 win and the Badgers taking a 72-54 final in Madison.

The Hoosiers have a superstar in Eric Gordon, the teams leading scorer at 21.7 points per game; the guard is hitting on 40% of his threes. D.J. White drops 16.8 points a night to contribute to Indianas 78.6 points scored average, and White leads the team in rebounds, grabbing 10.2 a night. Jamarcus Ellis is a versatile threat for Indiana averaging 7.8 points, 7.3 boards and leading the team with 4.5 assists. As a team, the Hoosiers shoot 48.5% from the field, while converting on 38.5% from long distance, and grabbing 35.9 rebounds on average.

The Badgers are a balanced squad, with all players getting a chance to handle the ball in Bo Ryans swing offense. G Trevon Hughes and F Brian Butch pace the team with 13.1 points on average on the way to Wisconsins 70.1 ppg as a team. Butch also gets it done on the glass, leading the team with 7.8 rebounds per game. G Joe Krabbenhoft is the answer to Indianas Ellis; Krabbenhoft is averaging 7.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and leads the Badgers in assists. The team shoots 46.9% on all FGs, 35.6% from three and is a close match with the Hoosiers in rebounding at 34.6 boards on average.

Indiana will look to use their edge in athleticism to play a more up-tempo game, take Wisconsin out of its comfort zone and push the scoring pace. The Badgers will counter with a sound defensive game plan that has them allowing only 54.7 points to opponents, and let the home crowd pressure the Hoosiers into turnovers.

Matt’s Pick: I like the Hoosiers to cover in what should be a close game throughout!