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The only scheduled meeting of the regular season between Indiana and No. 18 Wisconsin takes place Saturday on CBS as the Big Ten squads look to snap out of losing streaks amid injuries to key players. Wisconsin (11-4, 3-2 Big Ten) enters after dropping two straight while Indiana (10-6, 1-4) is on a three-game slide, which should create a sense of desperation as Big Ten play heats up.
Indiana has lost six of its last nine games since a 7-0 start that saw the Hoosiers rise all the way to No. 10 in the AP Top 25. Now, Indiana is also dealing with the absence of forward Race Thompson, who injured his leg in a loss at Iowa last week. With starting point guard Xavier Johnson also sidelined following foot surgery, the Hoosiers are in an injury-induced funk.
Defense was the primary culprit for Indiana in an 85-66 loss at Penn State on Wednesday as the Nittany Lions drilled 18 of 31 attempts from 3-point range. Perimeter defense could also be an issue against a Wisconsin team that features a few sharpshooters. Chucky Hepburn and Connor Essegian are both shooting better than 45% from beyond the arc on 4.5 attempts per game for the Badgers.
However, Wisconsin could not overcome the absence of leading scorer Tyler Wahl in a 69-65 loss to Michigan State on Tuesday. Wahl has missed two straight games with an ankle injury he suffered against Minnesota last week. The 6-foot-9 senior is averaging 13.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
Wisconsin won both meetings last season by five points each, but when the Badgers escaped Assembly Hall with a 74-69 last season, it was due in large part to a combined 51 points from Johnny Davis and Brad Davison, both of whom have departed. Without Wahl, Wisconsin will need significant contributions from across the roster to pick up another big road victory this time around.
Date: Saturday, January 14 | Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Assembly Hall — Bloomington, Indiana
TV: CBS | Live stream: CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free)
Indiana is in a defensive funk as it grapples with injuries to veteran starters Xavier Johnson and Race Thompson. The Hoosiers have allowed three straight Big Ten foes to surpass 80 points and have lost all three games. Wisconsin is dealing with its own injury issue as leading scorer Tyler Wahl rehabs an ankle injury. But the Badgers have enough firepower elsewhere on the roster to keep this one close and perhaps even steal a victory on the road. Prediction: Wisconsin +4.5
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