Coming off an impressive win against Rutgers behind Zak Showalter’s perfect game, Wisconsin (9-6, 1-1) takes on Indiana (12-3, 2-0) on Tuesday night, January 5, at 6:00 PM on ESPN.

In his first three games, Wisconsin interim head coach Greg Gard has brought some slight modifications to the team. “We’ve tweaked some things, we’ve changed some things. It’s been well documented,” as he noted in today’s Big Ten Conference teleconference.

Gard has re-installed Bo Ryan’s traditional swing offense, even with the shot clock only at 30 seconds starting this season. The team is playing much better defense, only allowing opponents to shoot 40% from the floor, and forcing 13.7 turnovers per game. Furthermore, Gard has fully integrated guard Jordan Hill and forward Alex Illikainen into the team’s rotation, and even former walk-on Aaron Moesch got some playing time in the Rutgers game.

Hill’s emergence off the bench has been especially important for a team who was getting little to no production from its bench while Ryan was coaching the team before December 23. The redshirt sophomore, who many thought was contemplating transferring, has averaged 6.7 points in 23 minutes per game, providing a much needed spark off the bench. Credit Gard for giving Hill a chance against UW-Green Bay, and it’s hard to imagine the Badgers without Hill playing important minutes the rest of the season.

On Tuesday, the Badgers will look to stop the Hoosiers from winning their eighth straight game. Despite some absolute inconsistency on defense and struggles earlier this season, Indiana head coach Tom Crean has his team playing solid basketball in the last couple of weeks. Assembly Hall is still one of the nation’s toughest places to play, and Wisconsin will really need to control the pace to win.

In the paint, where Wisconsin has dominated outside of Oklahoma and Purdue, the Badgers will need to win the battle. Freshman 6’10”, 245-pound center Thomas Bryant is a load down-low, and Ethan Happ and Vitto Brown will have their hands full to continue Wisconsin’s rebounding prowess. Nigel Hayes and Indiana’s most explosive player Troy Williams will battle all night at the 3 in a matchup that should favor Hayes for his strength and basketball IQ.

The difference-maker will come down to the guard position. For the Hoosiers, second-leading scorer James Blackmon, Jr. (15.8 points per game) is going to have knee surgery and may be out for the rest of the season, announced on Tuesday. With the new, the Badgers’ guards will be able to focus more on Indiana’s leading scorer and senior leader Yogi Ferrell, who Wisconsin must stop in order to win in Bloomington. For Wisconsin, Bronson Koenig will need to put together his best game in weeks for the Badgers to win. That means passing more, taking better shots, and staying out of foul trouble on defense against a prolific scorer in Ferrell. If Koenig struggles, don’t be surprised if Gard gives Hill time in relief and Khalil Iverson minutes for defensive purposes.

Projected Wisconsin Starting Lineup

Bronson Koenig, Zak Showalter, Nigel Hayes, Vitto Brown, Ethan Happ

Projected Indiana Starting Lineup

Yogi Ferrell, Robert Johnson, Troy Williams, Collin Hartman, Thomas Bryant

Image: Andy Manis / Associated Press