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Tale of the Tape: Wisconsin

Austin Panchot dribbles during Indiana’s 5-0 win vs. VCU. (Mark Timko/HN)

Big Ten play gets underway for the Hoosiers in 2018 with a trip to Madison to face the Wisconsin Badgers.

The Badgers have been troublesome for the Hoosiers in past seasons. Indiana didn’t lose to Wisconsin last year, however it did take overtime to beat the Badgers in the regular season. The two sides also faced each other in the Big Ten Tournament final where Wisconsin won on penalties.

There will no doubt be some revenge that IU will want to exact on the Badgers. IU is coming in hot after a road win at No. 8 Notre Dame. This will be Indiana’s second game during a three-game road stretch.

Now let’s dive into the Badgers who enter with a 2-3-1 record.

Biggest Strength

The midfield for the Badgers is the team’s biggest strength in 2018. There have been some departures on the team due to graduation, but those were mostly up front. Mitch Guitar will be an integral part to what Wisconsin wants to do. He will be joined by Duncan Storey and Noah Leibold who will try to spark something in the middle of the park.

Wisconsin is going to have to play off the ball for much of the match. But if Guitar, Leibold or Storey can gain some possession for the Badgers, they could cause some problems for the Hoosiers.

Biggest Weakness

Four goals in six games is an issue for Wisconsin. The Badgers come into this season missing many of their key cogs from past seasons, most notably in the attack. Main attackers Tom Barlow and Chris Mueller led Wisconsin’s attack, but have since entered the pro ranks of MLS. The Badgers have not had a goalscorer score more than once.

Against a stout IU backline, putting something in the back of the net could be a big challenge for the Badgers. It hasn’t been the start to the season Wisconsin had hoped for. Yet, they have given the Hoosiers trouble in the past.

Key Matchup

Andrew Akindele vs. Jack Maher: The battle of two freshmen is one that is intriguing. Maher has looked stellar through most of the season thus far, but has shown some freshman moments at center back. Akindele, Wisconsin’s freshman forward, has been a lone bright spot in the attack for the Badgers. He has a goal and an assist on the season, the only Badger to have both.

These two freshmen have burst onto the scene for their respective teams. Both are filling spots of established players from past seasons and do have decently high expectations this season. Akindele could also be force in the air as he stands at 6-foot.

One to Watch

I’m looking at Mitch Guitar in the midfield. Guitar has been an established presence for the Badgers in past seasons. Now as one of the veterans, he has a bit more responsibility out of his midfield position. He played close to 2,000 minutes last season and is called a “general” in the midfield by coach John Trask.

Overall Assessment

Wisconsin has been a bit of a disappointment in 2018. The Badgers started in the top 25, but quickly fell out due to two losses in their first three matches. It’s also hard to win games when you don’t score goals. They’ve scored multiple goals in just one game and have also gone three games without scoring a goal.

It definitely is not the same team that won the Big Ten Tournament last season. Coach John Trask has had some turnover and it hasn’t been the smoothest start. However, IU coach Todd Yeagley and Trask both coached together and they will know what the other team wants to do. IU might struggle at times, but should be able to get out of Madison with three points.

I am a senior from Seattle, Washington majoring in Media. I am formerly of the Indiana Daily Student where I covered Indiana men’s soccer team and women’s basketball. You still can find me broadcasting for WIUX Student Radio and on BTN Student U outside of The Hoosier Network. Former intern at 710 ESPN Seattle and broadcaster for the Falmouth Commodores. Email: Follow me on Twitter: @JoshEastern.

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