With Indiana beating Wisconsin 75-72 in a huge upset, there are only three remaining undefeated teams in this College Basketball season: Syracuse, Arizona and Wichita State.
The Badgers were on a 16-0 role, including 3-0 in the Big Ten, heading into Assembly Hall, not to mention a 12-game winning streak against the Hoosiers. Despite some strong defense during the first half, they simply couldn’t contain Yogi Ferrell in the second half, and their attempts to force overtime with desperation shots from Traevon Jackson and Ben Brust failed to hit the mark.
The Hoosiers simply played well and shot well, taking good shots and moving the ball unlike their first three Big Ten games. They finished on 51.6% from the field, which included Ferrell improving from 2-of-9 in the first half to 8-of-15 in the second, finishing with 25 points and finally hitting a big 3-point shot following missing 7 consecutive from deep in the first half.
Indiana shot 38.9% from field in first 3 Big Ten games; Wisconsin allowed first 3 Big Ten opponents to shoot 34.8% from field. That defense just wasn’t there when it mattered against the Hoosiers, who probably played their best game of the season when facing their toughest opponents so far this year.
The program has had a lot of big wins. To the team, it means a great deal. To me, the team needs this. I mean, we had a long week from Michigan State to Penn State but we’ve gotten a lot better, and we got a lot better the last couple of days. It’s amazing what happens when some real confidence starts to come. We’re not going to sit and watch this tape and have a pizza party and get some ice cream and say, ‘Wow, we couldn’t have played any better,’ We’re not. I think we’ve got a lot of potential, but you coach this game expecting to win.
This was the first win for Tom Crean over Bo Ryan since becoming the head coach at Indiana. He has a young, inconsistent group (at least what they’ve shown so far), not remotely close to the crop he had last season which won the Big Ten and was around the top spot or at it for most of last season, reaching the Sweet Sixteen. Until Saturday’s win at Penn State, the Hoosiers had beaten only one power conference foe — Washington, way back in November. Now they have two straight wins over Big Ten programs.
And it wasn’t just the Sophomore Ferrell who had a big game; Senior Will Sheehey scored 13 points in 36 minutes, and Freshman Stanford Robinson scored 13 points off the bench, including the two points on a goaltending violation that gave the Hoosiers a 3 point lead heading into the final seconds.
This was about proving to themselves that this season is more than just a growing up phase; even though Indiana are now relying on young and inexperienced talent which means that the Big Ten title isn’t a realistic goal, there’s no real need to bow down to the stronger teams in the conference, and that Crean has a talented team under his hands which might have some very good days ahead of them this season.