The top-seeded Indiana Hoosiers are supposedly on their way to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but if they want that -- or a Big Ten Tournament title -- they'll have to figure out how to win a game against Bo Ryan's hideous, grinding system that has confounded them for years.
Indiana had to have been rooting for Michigan in Friday's Big Ten quarterfinal between the Wolverines and the Badgers. They'd knocked off Michigan twice this season, once when the Wolverines were ranked No. 1, and again when the regular season finale between the two teams ended with an Indiana win as Jordan Morgan's game-winning attempts rolled off the rim. Meanwhile, Wisconsin has given them absolute fits. They've lost 11 straight to the Badgers, a streak dating back to Jan. 31, 2007, before Tom Crean was head coach. One more win will tie a record for most consecutive wins over Indiana set by Purdue in 1914.
It's easy to see how Wisconsin kills Indiana. The Hoosiers earned a regular season conference title guided by the best offense in the country - 124 points per 100 possessions - with freak athlete Victor Oladipo unstoppable off the bounce and now a decent shooter - Cody Zeller often scoring at will in the lane, and Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford combining to shoot 48.7 percent on a variety of open looks. They choose to push if given the option, running the fastest tempo in the league.
Wisconsin does not care about your offense. Last year, they ran the slowest pace in the nation, 58.5 possessions per game. This year, they are only slightly quicker at 62.3 per game. That does enough to throw teams out of their style of play. Strong interior defenders in Jared Berggren and surprisingly pesky Ryan Evans, who is only 6'6 but grabs 7.4 boards per game, will cause Zeller to struggle, and the team murders teams that try to win from the perimeter. Teams only shoot 30.5 percent from beyond the arc against Wisconsin, and on Friday, they held gunner Nik Stauskas to 0-for-4 shooting.
The Badgers aren't even that great a team scoring the ball, but Ryan's patented swing offense spreads the ball evenly and leads to methodical opportunities. On Friday, they were a tale of two halves, coming out completely stagnant and managing only 17 points, then busting out for 51 in the second half as they pulled away for a 68-59 win over Michigan. If they can do their job against Indiana's unreal offense, they have a shot of moving on to the finals.
Here's the info on Saturday's match-up:
No. 1 Indiana (27-5, 14-4, Kenpom ranking 3) vs. No. 4 Wisconsin (22-10, 12-6, Kenpom ranking 9)
1:40 p.m. ET