Wisconsin v Indiana

Wisconsin knocks off No. 2 Indiana, so why did we question Bo Ryan?


source: Getty Images

And the streak continues.

For the 11th consecutive time, Wisconsin has beaten Indiana, with Tuesday’s win coming as the unranked Badgers went into Assembly Hall and knocked off No. 2 Indiana, 64-59. All of a sudden, in the loaded Big Ten, the Badgers are sitting alone atop the league standings at 4-0.

Ryan Evans led four players in double figures with 13 points for Bo Ryan’s club, including the biggest bucket of the game. Indiana had cut a 10 point lead down to one, at 54-53, when Evans was being hounded by Victor Oladipo and hit a ridiculous, 17-foot fadeaway with the shot clock winding down.

After a a turnover from Cody Zeller, Traevon Jackson hit a 12-foot pull-up in the lane to put the Badgers up 58-53. The Hoosiers never truly threatened again.

The biggest change in the second half came on the defensive end of the floor for the Badgers. For the first 20 minutes, Jared Berggren and company allowed Cody Zeller, the Preseason National Player of the Year, to look like he was deserving of being on the NBA all-star team. Zeller played undoubtedly his best half of basketball this season, finishing with 18 points on 8-8 shooting in the first 20 minutes, playing as aggressive as he ever has in a Hoosier uniform.

The second half, however, was a completely different story. Zeller’s first field goal came with less than a minute left on a put-back dunk that cut Wisconsin’s lead to seven points. He missed six straight shots in the mean time, including a couple lay-ups and a couple potential and-ones.

In fact, Indiana’s offense, as a whole, was downright horrendous. They shot 37.0% from the floor for the game, a number that’s no where near as impressive once you factor out the 8-8 that Zeller shot in the first half. Without Zeller’s first 20 minutes, Indiana was 12-46 from the floor.

That’s a cool 26.1%, and you’re not going to win many games that way.

But, frankly, the story of this game isn’t Indiana’s offensive struggles. It’s not Zeller’s second half disappearing act. It’s not even the fact that Wisconsin went into Bloomington and knocked off the No. 2 team in the country in the same gym where Minnesota was losing by 23 points after 20 minutes.

Where did this Wisconsin team come from?


The Badgers are coming off of a 74-51 mollywhopping of Illinois on Saturday. That was their sixth-straight win, but it was the first time in that streak they had beaten an opponent better than … Nebraska? Wisconsin-Green Bay?

This Badger team was embarrassed by Florida earlier this year. They were beaten pretty soundly by Creighton and lost to Virginia at home. They looked downright bad in the loss to rival Wisconsin, and certainly didn’t impress with single-digit wins over Penn State and Nebraska. And then, out of nowhere, they’re blowing out Illinois and beating Indiana in Bloomington?

So, again, where did this Wisconsin team come from?

The biggest improvement is offensively. For starters, Traevon Jackson has been terrific the last two games, averaging 12.5 points and making good decisions. Sam Dekker has 23 points in the last two games, which has also helped out the Badger offense. With more weapons they become more balanced, and Bo Ryan’s swing offense sure does like a balanced offensive attack. And since the Badger’s defense has picked up over the last month or so, it’s only understandable that they would start winning games impressively when they start scoring more points.

Because the bottom line is that Wisconsin is currently leading the Big Ten race. They are alone on top of the standings, a game in front of Indiana. And a game in front of Michigan. And a game in front of Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State, too.


I thought I was smarter than to count out Bo Ryan.

There’s a reason he’s never finished worse than fourth in the Big Ten.

(Photo via Getty Images)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
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Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
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When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.