Indiana Basketball: Game with Wisconsin Biggest of the Year so Far for Hoosiers

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIIJanuary 14, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 09:  Cody Zeller #40 of the Indiana Hoosiers looks to pass against Jared Berggren #40 of the Wisconsin Badgers during their quarterfinal game of 2012 Big Ten Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 9, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The game tomorrow night with the Wisconsin Badgers should be the biggest of the season for the Indiana Hoosiers.

Yes, I know they've played the North Carolina Tar Heels on ESPN back in November or the Butler Bulldogs in Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 15th. Some could even say the game on Saturday with the eighth-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers was the biggest game.

But I believe the game with the Badgers tomorrow night will be the biggest of the season.

Based on how the dominoes fell last week, Indiana is now ranked second in the polls. Also, since Michigan was upset set in Columbus to the Ohio State Buckeyes and Indiana's victory over Minnesota on Saturday, the Hoosiers and Wisconsin are tied atop the Big Ten.

Both are 3-0.

On paper, it will look like the game will be lopsided and Indiana should cruise to their fourth straight Big Ten win and open up a game lead on everyone else in the conference.

But, Indiana has struggled against Wisconsin under the Tom Crean era. The Badgers swept Indiana last year in beating them 57-50 up in Madison last January then by beating them again 79-71 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in March in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament.

The Badgers are down this year a bit and have gotten the luxury to play the bottom two teams in the conference in Penn State and Nebraska to open conference play. Then they host an overrated Illinois team on Saturday.

Eight of Wisconsin's next 10 games starting against the Hoosiers are against ranked opponents. They know the urgency they need to have to upset a top two ranked team on ESPN on the national stage to put them on the map and show they should be a factor not just in this conference but nationally.

Indiana, on the other hand, wants revenge on Wisconsin for all those years of beating them while they were down and for sweeping them last year. They're back to their rightful place in the top of the polls and atop the Big Ten.

They could hold the top spot on their own and show the national stage they're a force to be reckoned with from here on out and should be the national championship favorites again.