CHICAGO — When I think of a dozen, doughnuts and eggs come to mind.
But after No. 22 Wisconsin beat No. 3 Indiana 68-56 in a Big Ten Tournament semifinal, the Badgers now have a dozen straight wins over the Hoosiers.
And it was won in typical Wisconsin fashion. The Badgers clamped down on super sophomore forward Cody Zeller, who was just 4-for-10 from the floor and hounded by Jared Berggren all day, and Victor Oladipo who was 4-for-12 from the floor. Both guys are projected as Top 10 NBA picks this summer.
There’s no debate how good of a recruiter Tom Crean is. Indiana has stockpiled talent ever since he arrived in Bloomington four years ago but none of those guys wanted to play defense in 35-second installments on Saturday.
Which is exactly what Bo Ryan doesn’t do. The Badgers coach, who has beaten Crean 10 straight times, gets guys that play defense first and then sprinkles in deadly snipers that can break an opponent’s back.
The Hoosiers don’t have a guy like Mike Bruesewitz. ‘Bruiser’ is a coach’s dream because he even though he was just 1-for-2 from the floor with 5 points, he was the one that led the defensive charge with a steal with 1:37 left and a defensive rebound with 39 seconds to seal Indiana’s fate.
Bruesewitz is the epitome of this winning streak. Wisconsin has never relied on his shooting all that much but the energetic spark he provides with his rebounding, hustle and floor burns kick-start everybody else.
Indiana does not have that guy. Sure, they’ve got blue-chippers all over the place including Zeller who was on the cover of three magazines before the season started.
But scoring points and filling up the boxscore is great but what does it matter if you don’t defend on the other end? Even Christian Watford, who finished with 14 points, was only able to grab three rebounds because he went AWOL from the paint when a shot went up.
Crean is the stylish Italian sports car with leather seats, wood trim and chrome wheels that goes 0-60 mph in the blink of an eye. And Ryan is a rusted out Chevy pickup truck with dust on the dash, a clock that sports the wrong time and dirty, torn seats.
Yet it’s Ryan that has owned Crean because the stylish coach only wants to win a certain way. Ryan showed yesterday that he isn’t above changing his game plan and did so at halftime after the Badgers’ offense looked putrid.
Even though Crean has had his lunch handed to him by a much better tactician, he refuses to alter his philosophy or game plan in any way that would make his program look more like Wisconsin’s grinding style.
I mean, Ryan got three assists, three rebounds, two blocks and two steals from reserve forward Frank Kaminsky in only 15 minutes. In that time he took only one shot, not because he isn’t a valuable offensive weapon but he understood after yesterday’s win, how important it is to keep the ball moving.
Similarly, Remy Abell played 15 minutes for Indiana and did contribute six points, but was virtually nonexistent in hustle stats with just two rebounds and one steal.
Obviously, sometimes the Badgers shoot poorly, but that lunch pail attitude has never left the program ever since Dick Bennett was here.
And it’s that attitude that has Wisconsin fans cheering and Indiana fans scratching their heads.
To contact Cory Jennerjohn: e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @CoryJennerjohn