Wisconsin-Indiana Preview


Indiana's coach believes his team has already made a definitive claim to receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Even if that's true, the third-ranked Hoosiers still need two more wins this weekend if they want to add their first-ever Big Ten tournament championship to a season that has seen the school's first outright conference title in 20 years.

One of those victories will have to come in a semifinal Saturday against No. 22 Wisconsin, a team the Hoosiers haven't beaten in six seasons.

Regardless of the result, coach Tom Crean thinks Indiana should sit at the top of a bracket Sunday night. The Hoosiers' case is a strong one, with a 27-5 record, the school's first outright Big Ten title since 1993, two wins apiece over Michigan and Michigan State and a victory against Georgetown.

"I would think - I would hope - we've done enough," Crean said following an 80-64 win over Illinois in Friday's quarterfinals. "I think when you have the league the way that it is and you win it outright the way that we did."

The Hoosiers struggled offensively in a 64-59 home loss to Wisconsin on Jan. 15, shooting a season-low 37.0 percent. They've lost 11 straight meetings with the Badgers since the start of the 2007-08 season, including a 79-71 defeat in last year's Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.

Indiana, though, had little trouble scoring Friday against the Fighting Illini, shooting 54.0 percent from the floor. Forty of Indiana's points came in the paint as Cody Zeller turned in a dominant performance, going 9 of 11 for 24 points and grabbing nine rebounds.

Zeller, a rare bright spot for the Hoosiers with 23 points and 10 boards in the first meeting with Wisconsin, is averaging 22.0 points on 59.6 percent shooting over four March games.

"Even if I don't score it, it opens up a lot of things for our shooters on the outside," Zeller said.

Indiana, one of the nation's best 3-point shooting teams at 41.5 percent, will look for a better performance from long range after going 5 of 17 against Illinois. The Hoosiers were just 3 of 12 against Wisconsin.

The Badgers (22-10) didn't shoot well in the first half of a 68-59 quarterfinal win over No. 6 Michigan, going 5 of 29 from the floor, but they heated up after the break, knocking down 17 of 28 shots.

Wisconsin has held seven of its last eight opponents to 60 points or fewer.

"Guys picked each other up," coach Bo Ryan said. "They didn't get frustrated when the shots weren't going down in the first half. We took care of that in the second half, and continued to hustle on defense."

The Badgers got another strong showing from sophomore guard Traevon Jackson, who scored 16 points to set a new career high for the second straight game after he had 15 - including the game-winning 3-pointer - Sunday at Penn State.

Jackson averages 6.8 points on the season.

"I think we've got a really talented group of guys, and when we come together, we can beat anybody," he said.

A victory Saturday would be Wisconsin's seventh in 10 games versus ranked opponents in 2013 and third in as many meetings with teams in the top 5.