The Wisconsin Badgers (13-2, 2-0) went on the road and beat No. 25 Indiana in Bloomington 75-68 on Tuesday night. For the team, that’s nine straight wins. Here are major takeaways from Wisconsin’s impressive win.
Wisconsin sophomore big man Ethan Happ is efficient, to say the least. In fact, his numbers and coinciding shooting percentages have been incredible 15 games into the season. Coming into the Badgers’ big matchup at Assembly Hall against Indiana Tuesday night, Happ was averaging nearly 13 points per game on just about eight shot attempts per contest, which is unheard of in the current college basketball landscape. As if that’s not enough, Happ also leads the team in rebounding at nearly 10 a game, to go along with three assists and 1.5 steals, also a team leading statistic, making the redshirt sophomore one of the most efficient players in the country. At Indiana, in arguably one of the team’s biggest games of the season, the Milan, Illinois native was no different, pacing the team with 19 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists, and a block. Happ also shot 8/11 in this one, which is almost unbelievable considering he was double-teamed or triple-teamed nearly every time he touched the ball on the block, including at least one time being converged upon by four Hoosier defenders and still managing to kick the ball out to Bronson Koenig for an assist. If Happ can keep up his efficiency, the Badgers will be very hard to stop down low on the offensive end.
Free Throw Woes
As many facets of the game that the Badgers are doing well with, and continued to show against Indiana, there is one pretty big problem that cannot be overlooked: shooting from the charity stripe. Wisconsin, No. 13 in the country and sporting a 13-2 record, is obviously not suffering too much. However, as competition increases like it did in Bloomington, and continues to as we inch closer to March Madness, free throw shooting could kill the Badgers, who shoot under 69% as a team, including under 66% for Nigel Hayes and under 49% for Ethan Happ, two of the Badgers’ top three players. Against Indiana, the team finished 9/14 from the line (64%), but even that number is a bit skewed, as the team started 1/6 to contribute to the Hoosiers’ coming back and actually taking a lead in the second half, before the Badgers made their last eight from the line to close out the win. There is a lot to like about this talented and experienced Wisconsin team, but if they want to reach the mountain top, free throws are something they really need to improve as a whole.