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

Jan 15, 2013, 11:14 PM EDT

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.

  1. badgerbuck - Jan 16, 2013 at 12:24 AM

    Bo knows basketball,simple as that.fundamentally sound,hard working players that can play with anybody in the country.

  2. brewcrewfan54 - Jan 16, 2013 at 12:29 AM

    You’re damn right you need to quit counting out Bo Ryan teams. Why people continue to do so is baffling. I don’t expect the Badgers to win the Big Ten bit for some reason people never expect them to be in it at the end yet they always are. I would think you guys who get paid for this stuff might figure it out eventually. Then again Bo’s only been there since 2001.

  3. arlingtonsynn - Jan 16, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    As a Hoosier fan, the scariest thing about checking our schedule is when we see WISC on it without a ranking.

    That seems to only make them angrier.

  4. huffdaddyco - Jan 16, 2013 at 8:40 AM

    It is just great to be a fan of Big Ten hoops this year. The Big Ten is tuff. All of these great teams testing each other will (hopefully) pay off during the tourney.

  5. dexterismyhero - Jan 16, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    Another job of Bo Ryan outcoaching Tom Crean. Crean needs to be able to make better in game adjustments or maybe his players need to be more vocal. This team needs a true leader and they lack that. Hulls could be, but he seems to stay quiet when he is playing bad. Good job Badgers.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:32 PM

      Christian Watford should be the leader. But he is far from it. Unfortunate really cause’ dude can dominate when he wants to. Your point in regards to Hulls is well taken. I don’t know that he necessarily played bad last night as much as Wisconsion took him out of his game.
      Wisconsin tends to do that to teams. Go Hoosiers!

  6. 1westcoastphinfan - Jan 16, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    These latest two games Wisconsin played against Illinois and Indiana have been completely different than the earlier part of the season. The Badgers look hungry, aggressive, and full of spirit. They are grabbing rebounds and driving to the basket. Wisc is not ranked because of its earlier game performances. They look like two different teams comparing first 10 games versus the last two. Bo Ryan is a great coach, and he has them playing now at a really high level. Keep up the great work. On Wisconsin!

  7. jpopejoy - Jan 16, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    As an IU fan this is what our team is. We can’t beat slow scrappy teams (see Butler). Our half court offense is poor bc our guards do not penetrate and either dump for a dunk or kick for a 3. Crean has to do better in game on offense as be able to teach a functionable half court offense.

    Side note…there isn’t a team in the big ten that gets more road calls than Wisconsin. It’s been that way for 10 years.

  8. packhawk04 - Jan 16, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Please dont tell me that was an indiana fan potentially complaining about the officials. Please dont tell me that.

    But, indiana didnt get every single call their way, which is what theyre used to.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:29 PM

      Wisconsin does play a brand of basketball that seems to be allowed (if not rewarded). Primarily…their scrappy….ever physical bumping and banging.
      But I don’t care. It’s always that way.
      Some people call it ugly. I call it great basketball. I love watching you guys play.
      Bottom line…you guys beat us. Good win.

  9. stlouis1baseball - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    Bo Ryan is a wonderful coach. He always has been a good coach.
    The Wisconsin system flat out works. It’s a jaugernaut.
    As a Hoosier fan (born and bred)…I cringe anytime Wisconsion is on the schedule. I don’t care if we are playing them in Madison, Bloomington or Cheyenne, Wyoming. Wisconsin plays sound defense. Wisconsin works their sets. Wisconsin plays basketball.
    Great win by the Badgers.

  10. buckybadgair - Jan 16, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    When we’re hitting shots and playing like “junkyard dogs” on D, we look like we can beat any team in the country.

  11. apm - Jan 16, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    Not sure how Bo Ryan didn’t get fired for losing to “rival Wisconsin” earlier in the year. #erroringraph13

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