Sometimes scheduling sucks in conference, but you'd think with 14 teams playing two games every week that we could avoid nights where there is only one Big Ten game on the docket, or even worse, none. This is not the case however, and for the second night in a row, there was just one game of Big Ten action on Tuesday. Good news is that the Indiana Hoosiers and the Wisconsin Badgers were kind of enough to provide five minutes of extra basketball for us junkies.
Game of the Night: Wisconsin Badgers 82, No. 19 Indiana Hoosiers 79 (OT)
The "By Default" is in jest, as this game would likely end up as our GotN on any day of the Big Ten schedule. It was a back-and-forth contest throughout, with a mix of physical play and good jump shooting, plus it featured mediocre-at-best officiating. This was a peak Big Ten game, folks.
Indiana entered Tuesday night as one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the conference along with the Iowa Hawkeyes. Many had this match-up with the Badgers circled as a major hurdle because, in case you did not watch the game, had it on mute because maybe you're not a fan of the broadcasting crew that the World Wide Leader scheduled, or maybe you're just blissfully unaware, that Indiana has not won in Madison since the Clinton Administration.
Speaking of the World Wide Leader, this seems like a great time to talk about LSU's Ben Simmons. Have you readers seen this guy, Ben Simmons? He runs up and down the floor, he puts the basketball through the hoop sometimes, he's quite tall, folks these are things we simply just do not see on the hardwood.
It was the Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ show for Wisconsin as they scored 31 and 25 points respectively. Hoosier Nation may want to cry wolf on Hayes' 22 free throw attempts, (of which he made 17) but the Hoosiers often found themselves in bad positions on defense, as Collin Hartman was exposed early and often before eventually fouling out. The Badgers attempted 37 free throws compared to the 18 (made 16), as Wisconsin was aggresive towards the basket throughout, forcing three IU disqualifications, Max Bielfeldt and Thomas Bryant being the others.
Not to be outdone by Hayes and Happ, Indiana senior guard Yogi Ferrell dropped a cool 30 points, as he continues to go bonkers offensively since James Blackmon Jr.'s departure. Ferrell very nearly ended the game in regulation, as an off-balance 8-footer hit off of the rim.
The Hoosiers certainly had their chances to win this game, though for the last thirty minutes or so of regulation it felt like the Hoosiers were trying to stave off the Badgers from seizing complete control of the game. Wisconsin would jump out to a 4,5, 6 point lead as IU would have a string of empty and bad possessions, before crawling back.
A win for the Hoosiers would have almost assured that they would be the last undefeated in Big Ten as Iowa has to travel to Maryland on Thursday. Now, within 48 hours it is likely that the top-5 in the standings will be separated by just a game and a half. For Wisconsin, the schedule lightens up a little for the next three game stretch with a trip to Illinois, and games at home against Ohio State and Nebraska, the Badgers now sitting at 4-4 in conference have a chance to climb back into tournament talk.