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After topping Illini, Badgers prep for Hoosiers

first_imgMike Bruesewitz and the Badgers have solidified their reputation as an aggressive, physical squad capable of pulling down several rebounds and getting loose balls.[/media-credit]Saturday afternoon against Illinois, the No. 21 Wisconsin Badgers (13-4, 3-2) avoided the dreaded early-season Big Ten losing streak. Thursday night against Indiana (10-8, 1-4), they’ll look to build their first win streak of the conference season.After a tough overtime loss at Michigan State Jan. 11, Wisconsin used a 10-0 run at the start of the second half Saturday to recover against Illinois, 76-66. The game was typical Big Ten fare – physical, hard-fought and not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. Against a Hoosiers squad that finally righted its ship Jan. 15 against Michigan after a six-game losing streak (four of which were conference games), the Badgers will be looking for a more fine-tuned performance.“Believe me, when I break the tape down and we go over it on Monday, there will be a lot of defensive things that we could have done a lot better,” UW head coach Bo Ryan said. “But, as long as they are working, as long as they are working together, as long as they are sticking to our rules, it gives us a chance. If we get away from our rules, we are not very good.”Ryan’s rules surely involve beating weaker teams, and given Indiana’s struggles, that should be the task for Wisconsin. The Hoosiers have actually been one of the Big Ten’s more proficient offenses, averaging 75.2 points per game, fifth in the conference. Indiana is also the Big Ten’s second-best shooting team, hitting 49.2 percent from the floor.Sophomore forward Christian Watford has been Indiana’s star this season, averaging 16.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while shooting 43.9 percent from the floor and 40 percent behind the arc. Junior guard Verdell Jones III also has been a key contributor, averaging 12.8 points per game and leading the team in assists with 3.7 per game. Yet, Jones has also averaged a stunning 3.7 turnovers per game.Thus, most of the Hoosiers’ troubles have come on defense. Indiana surrenders 66.3 points per game, ninth in the conference. Opponents also convert 41.3 percent of their shots against IU, just seventh in the Big Ten. The Badgers, consequently, will be looking to continue the aggressiveness they displayed against the Illini Saturday.“I felt like, after Michigan State, that I let my team down by not being aggressive and making good plays and good reads,” UW forward Jon Leuer said. “I felt like [Saturday] I did a better job of that, but it was a team win. It was a total effort from everybody. That was good for us to get back on track, and hopefully we can string some wins together.”Saturday against Illinois, both teams finished with 32 rebounds. Wisconsin averages 33.8 boards per game, only 10th in the conference. Indiana fares slightly better, pulling down a seventh-best 34.7 per game. Yet, thanks to a variety of hustle plays by players like forward Mike Bruesewitz and guard Tim Jarmusz, the Badgers have played better than statistics might indicate.“Anytime we can get offensive rebounds, it seems like it really hurts the opposition,” Leuer said. “We get the ball back out and we can work our cuts and work our offense. We wanted to start doing a better job of that because the past couple of games, we’ve started to let that rebound mark slip away. We know that’s really important and anytime we can get those second-chance points, it’s big for us.”One area where the Badgers and Hoosiers vary significantly is taking care of the ball. Perhaps the staple of Bo Ryan’s swing offense, Wisconsin simply does not turn the ball over. The Badgers’ assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.71 is tops in the Big Ten and second in the nation to Pittsburgh’s 1.75. The Hoosiers, meanwhile, boast a ratio of only 1.03, tenth in the conference.last_img

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