Big Ten Geeks: Badgers Shock Indiana

Wisconsin now owns the most impressive result in all of college basketball after its five point win at Indiana. During the Badgers’ nonconference struggles, we Geeks wondered what was up with Wisconsin’s defense. While the Badgers were still stifling the offense of many a cupcake, they were getting lit up (in a relative sense) against tournament-level teams.

Well, it seems Bo Ryan’s squad has figured things out. Prior to last night, Indiana had not scored lower than 1.12 points per possession in Assembly Hall; Wisconsin held the Hoosiers below a point per trip. A large part of that dominance stemmed from a typical strength of Ryan’s teams–defending the three-point arc. The Badgers allow opponents to take only a quarter of their shots from three, indicating how few good looks Wisconsin allows its opponents. That perimeter defense befuddled the Hoosiers, and it kept their shooting accuracy low despite a lot of success in getting to the rim:

INDIANA FGM FGA FG% % of shots
Layups/dunks/tip-ins 13 27 48% 50%
Two-point jumpers 4 15 27% 28%
Threes 3 12 25% 22%

Normally, when a team manages to dedicate half of their shots to layups and dunks, it is well on its way to a good shooting night. While Indiana did make nearly half of its layups and dunks, the Hoosiers didn’t convert at the rim quite as well as they normally do. Some of that was just poor finishing, but Wisconsin also did a very good job of challenging shots at the rim.

Still, Indiana’s atrocious shooting on jumpers is what ultimately doomed it. For the season, per Hoop-Math, the Hoosiers are shooting 37 percent on two-point jumpers and 41 percent on threes. Against Wisconsin, it wasn’t really a case of Indiana passing up open threes–there just weren’t any open threes. Jordan Hulls’ night was emblematic, as he found himself forcing tough shots and finishing with just four points and three turnovers.

At the other end of the floor, Wisconsin had an excellent shooting night, especially considering how tough some of their looks were. On a couple occasions in the second half, the Indiana defense kept the Badgers almost entirely on the perimeter, only to be beaten at the end of the possession by a contested jumper. Wisconsin’s shot distribution shows that Indiana didn’t really defend all that poorly:

WISCONSIN FGM FGA FG% % of shots
Layups/dunks/tip-ins 9 15 60% 29%
Two-point jumpers 7 14 50% 27%
Threes 7 22 32% 43%

Wisconsin did get some open dunks, especially in the first half, but the Hoosiers locked that down in the second half. It was the 50 percent shooting on two-point jumpers had to drive Tom Crean crazy, as several of those makes came with an Indiana defender draped all over the shooter. When you pair this kind of accuracy with the Badgers’ usual low turnover rate, you get an output good enough to win.

Wisconsin now sits alone atop the Big Ten standings at 4-0, though the real meat of its schedule is just beginning. The Badgers’ next nine games all come against teams currently in the KenPom top 50, though five of those are at home. Improbably, Wisconsin is now a part of the Big Ten title discussion.

As for Indiana, the upcoming schedule offers ample opportunity to take out some frustration, with games against Northwestern and Penn State on tap. The Hoosiers should probably still be considered the favorites in the conference race, but the margin for error just got a lot smaller. If I’m Tom Crean, I’m a bit worried about my team’s defense, as both Minnesota and Wisconsin were able to score nearly 1.1 points per trip at Assembly Hall.

Tonight, it’s a doubleheader on BTN, starting with Michigan State at Penn State (6pm CT). I maintain that the Nittany Lions will knock off somebody in the Bryce Jordan Center, though I don’t expect it to be the Spartans. Watch the rebounding battle in this one, as Penn State is very good on the defensive glass and Michigan State often needs second chances.

At 8pm CT, Nebraska hosts Purdue. This should be an ugly game, as both teams are much better on defense than offense. The interior matchup will be interesting, as two of the conferences biggest men face off  in A.J. Hammons and Andre Almeida. That’s nearly 600 pounds of Big Ten goodness.

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Mark Johnson on 1/17/2013 @ 10:20am EST Said:

What is it about Wisconsin that makes them perform better in the Big Ten relative to their pre- and post-conference performance? It seems every year they struggle against tournament-caliber teams in the pre-conference schedule, then challenge for a Big 10 title regardless, then don’t do as well as you’d expect in the tournament.

They haven’t been awful in the tournament by any means, but they’re generally ranked in Ken Pomeroy’s top 10 at the end of the season. Given that lofty ranking, it seems like at least one final four run under Bo Ryan should have happened by now, but I’m not sure they’ve ever made it past the round of 16. They seem to have some kind of mojo that gives them an edge over other conference teams but doesn’t work outside the conference.

mick on 1/17/2013 @ 5:16pm EST Said:

One elite eight, four sweet sixteens, five second rounds, in Bo’s 11 years. As you note, never lower than 4th in conference with 4 championships. Takes time to gear up the defense early in the year. Dominate on the home court during the conference season. Offensive limitations cost us close games in the tournament.

Greg on 1/17/2013 @ 7:36pm EST Said:

Mark, you must not follow the Badgers too closely. Its not common for the badgers to struggle in the non-conference season. They typically win and play a good non-conference schedule.

Look at their ncaa games, Bo has only lost in first round once since 2002 and has one elite eight appearence and 5 sweet 16 showings, not to mention 11 straight bids. 16-11 isnt “struggling”. Not even close to struggling…

Its an easy criticism and perhaps hos only blemish to ask why he doesn’t have a final four. As a fan I wish he had 11. He still has a few years ahead of him and he can still make that breakthrough.

He has no secret mojo for big ten. He plays a winning style which works pre-conference, conference, and tournament play. Should and will easily be remembered as one of the greateat colllege basketball coachez In the history of basketball.

Spencer on 1/17/2013 @ 10:32pm EST Said:

Ah no. A coach who has never taken a team to a Final Four cannot in any circumstances be considered one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all time. Bo Ryan is a very, very good coach, but he is definitely not one of the greatest ever. He’s not in the same class as Izzo, Boeheim, Krzyzewski, or Williams, just to name a few active coaches.

Dennis Stephens on 1/18/2013 @ 11:05am EST Said:

Bo has won twice as many games against Izzo head to head so not sure how you make that statement. Also has more Big 10 titles. Bo will get to a Final Four (not this year) but has his best class coming in next year to add to freshmen sensation Sam Dekker. in the next 3-4 years look for him to finally get this Final Four monkey off his back. If he had Coach K’s and Huckleberry’s talent year in and year out he would be consistently in the mix for a NC. Bo’s only weakness is his recruiting as he does not play the b.s with the AAU coaches and kiss up to anyone (like Crean does). North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse, Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA are all long term giants in college basketball and have a built in edge in acquiring talent. Bo is twice the coach that Roy Williams is. Coach K is great as is Jim Boeheim. Calipari is a con artist and personally I like Tom Izzo as the best coach in that group. Izzo doesn’t cheat and plays big in the NCAA. I am a Wisconsin fan and respect Izzo and Chad Matta. I think if Bill Carmody had better talent they all would be looking up at Northwestern in the standings every year. Best coach nobody knows about