Wisconsin is coming off its first conference loss, an 87-83 defeat at the hands of the Penn State Nittany Lions, and will look to rebound against a Hoosiers team that has gone 12-6 on the year, including 4-3 in conference play.
How do the Badgers match up against the Hoosiers?
The Hoosiers have the 11th-best scoring offense in the Big Ten, scoring 73.9 points per game, while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 33.7 percent from three.
They’re led by forward Malik Reneau, who has broken out with an expanded role in 2023 by scoring 15.8 points a game and six rebounds a contest. Working primarily on the inside, Reneau is shooting 57 percent from the field, while hitting 40 percent of his threes on 25 total attempts.
Indiana’s sophomore frontcourt is their bread and butter, as seven-footer Kel’el Ware is averaging 14.2 points and 9.4 rebounds a game, while shooting 54.5 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three.
The Hoosiers have two key rotational freshmen in Mackenzie Mgbako, who is scoring 10.4 points a game on 41.8 percent from the field, and Gabe Cupps, who has scored 2.7 points a game while playing 22.7 minutes a game.
But, they’re rounded out with veteran guards Trey Galloway and Xavier Johnson, who are both seniors, but their bigs are the focal point of their team, creating an intriguing battle with Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl on Friday night.
If Wisconsin can find success in the paint, both offensively and defensively, they’ll pull out victorious against Indiana.
Looking at the history of the matchup, the Badgers have won their last 19 home matchups against Indiana.
While the focal point will be on the bigs in the paint, the X-Factor for the Badgers is, coincidentally, their best player: A.J. Storr.
If Storr can find a rhythm by attacking the Hoosiers in the paint, it can open things up for the Badgers to gain an advantage in the paint department.
However, while Indiana will likely rely on their forwards, the Badgers are better in the backcourt at the moment, and should use that to their advantage on both ends of the court, looking to force turnovers, while also being aggressive.
This seems like a game where the Badgers could potentially cover the hefty 12-point spread and ultimately win by double digits.
The Badgers were torched by poor perimeter defense in their last game against Penn State, but should have the advantage in that category in this game.