Wisconsin grounds Indiana’s high-flying offensive attack
By John Mutka Post-Tribune senior correspondent March 16, 2013 8:26PM
Wisconsin guard Ryan Evans rejects a shot by Indiana guard Victor Oladipo in the second half of the Wisconsin Badger's 68-56 win over the Indiana Hoosiers in a semi-final game of the Big ten Tournament March 16, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: April 18, 2013 7:15AM
CHICAGO — Wisconsin’s Badgers have a nasty habit of bringing elite teams down to earth.
Take No. 3 Indiana, for instance. The Hoosiers brought an 80-point average into the Big Ten Tournament.
It would be higher if they hadn’t played the Badgers. Wisconsin has limited them to less than 60 points in their two meetings. The only other team to handcuff them defensively was Ohio State, which beat IU 67-58 on senior night.
The Badgers limited IU to a season-low 56 points, but had nothing but praise for Cody Zeller afterwards.
“He’s a great player,” said Ryan Evans, who led the Badgers with 16 points and eight rebounds.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for him. I’ve seen him work his way up the ranks.”
Wisconsin badgered him with 6-10 Jared Berggren, 6-11 Frank Kaminsky and 6-7 Mike Bruesewitz. Indiana coach Tom Crean tried to give Zeller breaks, limiting him to 31 minutes, but he still managed 13 points and 11 rebounds.
What the Badgers kept him from doing was running the floor. Their explosiveness corked, the Hoosiers managed just five points on fast breaks.
“There’s a reason he puts up those numbers,” said Bruesewicz, a curly-haired redhead with a wry sense of humor. “He’ll probably be a lottery pick, but we did our best to make his life miserable.”
The NCAA Tournament might be less physically demanding compared to the Big Ten grind, a conference ranked No. 1 all season.
“We don’t have as many big bruisers as some of the Big Ten teams,” Zeller conceded. “We like to get out and run.”
Zeller refused to use the torrid pace IU played to oust Illinois a day earlier. The Hoosiers locked down on defense to limit the perimeter-oriented Illini to 5-for-17 from the arc, but the selectively minded Badgers shot 51 percent, including seven 3s.
“We like to push the pace so that didn’t bother us, but it is really tough playing back-to-back,” he said after IU dropped its 12th straight game in this rivalry.
Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell credited the Badgers with clogging the middle. Unable to drive the lane without heavy resistance, IU shot only 38.2 percent It was a season-low.