After picking up a couple of wins on the road over Michigan and Iowa, the No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers (7-1 Big Ten, 19-2 overall) will return home to the Kohl Center to take on Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers (6-3, 16-6) Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The Badgers have won four straight since losing starting point guard Traevon Jackson to a broken foot in a loss to Rutgers. In his absence, sophomore guard Bronson Koenig has filled Jackson’s spot in the starting rotation, and has certainly rose to the occasion for head coach Bo Ryan.
In his four starts, Koenig has scored 45 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out eight assists while averaging 36.5 minutes per game. He has only turned the ball over twice in the last four games and has committed just three turnovers in 242 minutes of action over the last nine contests.
“You need to be aggressive to be a point guard, but through repetition you learn what’s open and what isn’t open,” Ryan said. “[Koenig] is maturing before our eyes.”
As a team, Wisconsin is averaging 73.6 points per game during conference play, the highest total in the Big Ten. The Badgers also boast the No. 1 offense in the entire country, according to Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency ratings, averaging 124.8 points per 100 possessions.
All signs point to a high-scoring affair Tuesday night in Madison, as UW will be facing an Indiana team that is no slouch on offense either.
The Hoosiers rank 14th in the country in points per game (80.3) and have the seventh-best offense in the country according to Pomeroy’s efficiency ratings, averaging 117.3 points per 100 possessions.
The IU offense lives and dies by the three, ranking 15th in the nation with a team 3-point shooting percentage of 40.2. With the loss of junior forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea to a knee injury in mid-January, the Hoosiers’ lineup has become even more guard-heavy.
Mosquera-Perea’s injury was a huge blow to a frontcourt that already lacked much depth and weakened its interior defense considerably, which could cause a whole host of problems when the Hoosiers go up against Wisconsin.
UW’s starting frontcourt, consisting of forwards Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes, is one of the most formidable in the entire country and are a matchup nightmare for Crean and the Hoosiers.
The trio of Kaminsky, Dekker and Hayes combine to score 42.6 of the Badgers’ 73.6 points per game, and are the only three Wisconsin players who have double-digit scoring averages this season.
If the Hoosiers are going to hang with the Badgers and pick up their first win in Madison since 1998, when Dick Bennett was UW’s head coach and Bob Knight still patrolled the Indiana sidelines, they’ll need to be hot from beyond the arc. They could also use a big performance from freshman guard James Blackmon Jr. Indiana is 7-1 this season when he scores 20 or more points.
If the Hoosiers are unable to find success from 3-point range, they could be in for a really long night.