Tom Crean has led an impressive turnaround in his five seasons at Indiana, raising expectations in the process.
None of his teams have had success against Wisconsin, though.
The second-ranked Hoosiers look to avoid an 11th consecutive loss to the Badgers as the nation's highest-scoring team faces the Big Ten's top defense for sole possession of the conference lead Tuesday night in Bloomington.
Crean took over a program decimated by NCAA violations prior to the 2008-09 campaign and brought it back to national prominence with a regional semifinal appearance in March before beginning this season with a No. 1 ranking.
The Hoosiers (15-1, 3-0) have won six straight since an overtime loss to Butler on Dec. 15, withstanding a late rally and hanging on to beat then-No. 8 Minnesota 88-81 on Saturday.
"A year ago, we'd have been ecstatic with that victory, but we have different expectation levels now," Crean said. "We have a lot of room for improvement. Where it takes the next step is when players understand they can play better, and I think they do."
Crean lost his lone matchup with Nebraska but has beaten every Big Ten team he's faced more than once during his Indiana tenure except for Wisconsin, falling to 0-8 after a 79-71 loss in last season's Big Ten tournament.
He expects the Badgers (12-4, 3-0) to present another tough challenge after they routed then-No. 12 Illinois 74-51 on Saturday. The following day, Michigan would fall at Ohio State to leave Wisconsin and Indiana as the only Big Ten teams without a conference loss.
The Hoosiers force an average of 16.4 turnovers to lead the Big Ten, but the Badgers are committing only 8.9 per game - the best average in the country.
"We're not surprised they're playing as well as they're playing," Crean said. "We know it's going to be a tough game. We've got a big-time battle on our hands."
Indiana leads the nation in scoring at 87.1 points per game and has five players averaging at least 11.4, led by Cody Zeller's 16.6. Starters Victor Oladipo (20), Jordan Hulls (19), Zeller (18), Christian Watford (15) and Yogi Ferrell (13) accounted for 84 points Saturday. No reserve hit a field goal.
Oladipo is shooting 72.7 percent over the past eight games, including 8 of 10 on 3-point attempts. He shot a combined 3 of 16 from the field and totaled nine points in last season's two losses to the Badgers.
The Hoosiers have averaged just 57.6 points during their 10-game skid to Wisconsin, and scoring may be particularly tough Tuesday. The Badgers lead the Big Ten and rank sixth in the country in points allowed at 54.7 per game, including an average of 50.2 during their six-game winning streak.
Coach Bo Ryan credits seniors Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans for helping establish the team's defense-first reputation.
"Those three seniors have really helped us come along defensively," Ryan said. "(The team) has stayed committed to our principles and I think that's got to do with the leadership of the front line."
Berggren, averaging a Big Ten-best 2.1 blocks, had 15 points and a season-high 12 rebounds against the Illini while helping Wisconsin hold its opponent below 39.0 percent shooting for the sixth time in nine games.
"That's probably as good as we've played this year, and what you have to do is know (what) we're practicing for next," Ryan said.
"That's how short-lived a victory like this can be."
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