FORT WAYNE – Indiana and Wisconsin are the only two Big Ten teams without a conference loss.
Sole possession of first place in the Big Ten will be on the line when the Badgers (12-4, 3-0 Big Ten) visit Assembly Hall tonight to face the Hoosiers (15-1, 3-0).
We know we’ve got a big-time battle on our hands and we’re excited about it, Indiana coach Tom Crean said during the Big Ten teleconference Monday.
The Hoosiers have won six straight and jumped to No. 2 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll after defeating Penn State and Minnesota last week.
We thought our team continued to reflect what we’ve been all year, which is very balanced, Crean said. Our scoring has been extremely balanced. When you look at the fact that we’ve got so many different guys that are scoring points and a freshman point guard like (Kevin) Yogi Ferrell who is moving the ball at the rate that he’s moving and has the ability to score and defend. As we continue to get our bench even sharper and more experienced, we love where our team is headed.
IU sophomore forward Cody Zeller shared Big Ten Player of the Week honors with Ohio State forward and Bishop Luers graduate Deshaun Thomas. Zeller averaged 16.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 steals and 1.5 assists.
I’m happy for Cody because he was a huge, huge factor this week in both of our wins, Crean said. And not just on the offensive end, but certainly on the defensive end and the rebounding end.
Indiana is the top scoring offense in the Big Ten, averaging 87.1 points per game. Wisconsin is first in scoring defense, giving up 54.7 points per game.
They’ve stayed committed to our principles, which is good, and I think the main reason is the leadership of the front line, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said of the Badgers’ defense.
Wisconsin has also won six games in a row, the most recent a 74-51 drubbing of then-No. 12 Illinois on Saturday. Three Badgers are averaging double figures in scoring, led by forward/center Jared Berggren (13.4 per game).
We’re getting ready for a Wisconsin team that we’re not surprised the way they are playing as well as they are playing. People forget that when they had a few struggles, Mike Bruesewitz wasn’t in, Crean said. Bruesewitz missed two games with a concussion. He is just an absolute energy source of their team, there’s no doubt about it. He’s one of the more active, hardworking, aggressive players, not only in the league, but in the country.
We know it’s going to be a tough game. Wisconsin is constantly looking for the matchups in their offense. They want to drive people, they want to create mismatches, they want to keep their offense at a pace. They want to make it hard for you to score and keep you off the foul line.